Have you ever taken the opportunity to visit the sites where significant history has taken place?
Recently, we went to visit the sites of American history. We visited places like Boston, Salem, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, New York, and Washington D. C. We saw a great multiplicity of sites in these areas and took the tours and listened with intent interest as the various guides explained in great detail what had happened and the sequence of events that led up to the individual event.
I personally found that while I really enjoyed the opportunity to be able to visit all these sites, I discovered that some were of general interest, while others were of great interest, and still others, to my unexpected surprise, generated within me intense emotion.
For example, I found Valley Forge and the Old North Church in Boston to be only of general interest. I’m glad I went, but it was only a “learning” experience, giving me knowledge about the area and it’s significance in history.
Some of the places of great interest were Independence Hall, the White House and the Capitol building.
Others, to my surprise, stirred deep emotions within me that brought me to the edge of tears. These were places like:
(1) Mount Vernon, where I participated in placing a wreath upon George Washington’s grave. My daughter read aloud for our tour group Washington’s Prayer for our Nation. I got to brush my fingers across the cover of his tomb, giving me a deep sensation of his greatness and his presence.
(2) The Library of Congress, where I was able to view the detailed and colorful ornamentation and architecture of the building. The statements of profound wisdom that were inscribed about the interior of the building were both inspiring and uplifting.
(3) The Liberty Bell. It was much smaller than I had pictured, but it left me with a feeling of hope and security for our nation’s ability to pull together, to survive, and to make it’s own successful future.
(4) The Lincoln Monument was a place of comfort and peace. There must have been hundreds of people sitting on the steps that led up to it, and the interior was a place of reverent awe. It was a place I have wanted to visit since I was a young child. Almost as much as to be considered a personal pilgrimage. It gave me a profound sense of his greatness and ability as a leader and a person.
(5) Gettysburg. How can I even begin to describe the feelings I had there? I had not expected to feel the sensations that washed over me as I stood on Cemetery Hill. I was engulfed in the feelings of the struggles that occurred there. Friend against friend and brother against brother in a battle of lead and opinions. And I was suddenly, acutely aware that this was not a war of good and evil, but a war of standards and individual beliefs. On both sides stood good people fighting for what they believed was a good and just cause. I found myself weeping openly for their plight and lack of ability to settle their differences peacefully. It is a feeling that has not since left me. A feeling that perhaps I may learn from their shortcomings and try to do better, today. I stood where President Abraham Lincoln Stood as he delivered one of the shortest, yet most profound speeches ever given by a President of the United States, and I felt the words he spoke as he said that this government, for the people, by the people and of the people shall never perish from the earth.
I am convinced that visiting historical sites can and should be more than just standing on the spot where they occurred, but should be a feeling, deep inside each of us, what the significance of the event was, how it now affects our lives, and what we must do, from this point, to continue to move forward and upward so that their struggles and sacrifices will not have been in vain.
Bob Curtis has a bachelor's degree in Psychology, and has been writing about the elements of relationships for a number of years. He is the manager of the Essential Sunshine Association, a new website for positive relationship development at http://www.essun.blogspot.com