150 years later it seems to still bear the scars of battle. Open space where maybe there shouldn’t be. The unheard silence quashes the sounds of nature. Visitors speak in hushed, reverent tones.
Nothing prepares you for the emotions that rise up to almost choke you when visiting a site with so much importance, so much history, and so much of our country’s blood shed to defend two opposite ideals.
7,863 men lost their lives and over 27,000 were wounded. To walk among the grave markers in the cemetery, reading the names of individuals who fell 150 years ago, thinking about who they were, what they did, and how they lived, makes you look inward at your own life.
Sprinkled throughout the names are the unknown. A marker representing an individual who was unrecognizable or unable to be identified. In addition to all of the above questions, you ask yourself if their family ever learned of their sacrifice or if anyone even missed them at all. It’s a sobering thought, the idea that you could lose your life for a belief and no one would ever know.
You have to wonder about about what we lost. Was their death also the death of a new idea or a cure for a disease or a future leader? Who did they leave behind? How did their families fare after they were lost? Every marker represents a past, a unique history, a different story. But they all have one thing in common.