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Monday, July 8, 2013

What Happened Fifty Years After Pickett's Charge

Thure de Thulstrup painting of Pickett’s Charge
From July 1 through July 4, 1913, thousands of Civil War veterans returned to rural Adams County, Pennsylvania, to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

At that time, now a century ago, the New York Herald wrote: "Today fifty thousand veterans of the great War are moving in to take peaceful possession of the field where in the ardor of youth they strove in such deadly conflict. No better evidence of healing of the nation’s wounds could be offered than the spectacle of men of the Grand Army and of the Confederacy striking hands on the spot where they made history."

During the Commemoration there were many speeches made, wool blankets were handed out to the now aging veterans, and over 650,000 meals were served. The infamous and ill-fated Pickett’s Charge was reenacted by 120 veterans of Pickett’s Division and 180 veterans from the Philadelphia Brigade, reliving the carnage of that awful battle, Union: 3,450 (20%)
Confederate: 7,000 (38%).

After the Confederate veterans charged over the last 100 feet of ground to reach the wall held by the Union re-enactors, all of the men who had been sworn enemies broke ranks, shook hands and embraced each other as they recalled and relived the horrors of that July 3 afternoon.

I was moved by that image of former enemies meeting as brothers. If only we could get together before we engage in disastrous conflicts of this sort in order to find ways to avoid such horrors, perhaps we could work things out, shake hands and sit down to a common meal as friends and fellow children of God.

That would truly make God's dream for humanity come true.
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