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Gettysburg - 2003



June 10, 11, and 12, 2003 - At Gettysburg, Pennsylvania...

Comments: Not even 500 miles can find me clear sky. But it is truly all right, because I have come here to this place, not so much seeking astronomy, but a reunion of soul.

Those who are close to me know that I have a "thing" about the Civil War era. I do not participate in re-enactments... Nor do I study long forgotten battles in hopes of military enlightenment. What I do is visit graveyards. I do not understand this calling - nor do I fight it. It simply is. I have traversed up and down lonely mountainsides and deep into the heart of congested cities to find a handful of these lonely, often "unknown" graves. I sit among the stones at sunset on Johnson's Island... And cut away overgrowth on rugged Kentucky hillsides in search of something tangible to me.

And every few years I am called to Gettysburg.

I have jokingly told some of my friends about my many paranormal experiences while doing this... And it is not a subject I take light-heartedly. I am a very factual person, not given to flights of fancy, and my imagination only stretches so wide. What happens... Happens. I cannot control it, nor do I seek it. Perhaps it is nothing more than a need to find someone I've loved and lost in another life... And it could be "just a blot of mustard... or a bit of undigested beef." But whatever it is? I will go on looking for the rest of my life...

And into the next.

I do not make a good tourist. I do not follow rules. I refuse to take a tour bus... Use a map... Or stick to a scheduled plan. I am the one in black who will startle you by stepping from an unused path in the woods on the steep and rocky slopes of Big Round Top. I am the one who will sit by a stone wall for an unmeasured minutes... Soaking in the memories of a place and time.

Knowing that 140 years, and a handful of days ago... behind this very rock wall, soldiers watched the fields below turn red with blood. The cannons roared from the top of the mountain just yards above me... And they died... Oh, yes. They died too.

I am not alone in this place. Around me, for several square miles, stand the hundreds of silent monuments... True works of art captured in granite, marble and bronze. They are tributes to the 51,000 men who lost their lives right here in these tiny fields in a sensless battle that didn't even last three days. Brother against brother....

No one photograph, nor amount of words can capture the feeling of Gettysburg. It is a place of deepest sorrow... A place of rememberance. From the cannon holed sides of MacPhearson's barn...

To the bullet-ridden sides of the original houses in the town proper...

I am touched all over again...

As the skies redden with the hues of sunset, I seek another solace as well. And I call upon a private residence which borders the edge of the National Cemetary for permission to set up my scope and view the Moon in the privacy of this place.

But it is not to be here, either. Once again, despite the kind generousity, the clouds steal away the Moon from the Night. It was gone just as quickly as the pictures you see here will be. What once was... Shall be no more.

It is enough for me, to sit here in the darkness and watch that silver pearl race behind the clouds. It touches my soul to see the on-again, off-again moonlight cast shadows amoungst the somber monuments....

And remember.

"Look at your young men fighting... Look at your women crying. Look at your young men dying... The way they've always done before.

Can somebody tell me... Just what we were fighting for? No. I don't need no civil war."

~TheAstronomer