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Travel Logs June 2016

As I Recall...

Best Historical Education Comes Through Being There

By Jerry Ginther

We read aloud the words of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and they yielded stronger meaning than when we had read them from our history book. Being there made longer lasting impressions than photographs or written accounts could ever furnish.

Visiting a famous battlefield such as Gettysburg and standing on the very ground where so many brave men had fought and died takes one back in time. It becomes more than just a place that one has read about in American history.

Several years ago, when our children were in school, we made the journey to Pennsylvania and legendary Gettysburg. We moved about the battlefield to the different locations of interest and discussed what had occurred at each. From each site we had the view of the terrain as the soldiers would have had during the bloody conflict.

We read aloud the words of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and they yielded stronger meaning than when we had read them from our history book. Being there made longer lasting impressions than photographs or written accounts could ever furnish. It was a day of learning and an unforgettable family experience. To their teacher’s surprise, my kids had much to share and became the authorities in their classrooms on that Civil War battle because they had actually been to the battlefield.

Springfield, Illinois, is another town rich in American history pertaining to Abraham Lincoln. It exhibits the home and the tomb of our illustrious 16th  president. The tomb itself is located in Oak Ridge Cemetery and is visited by thousands of history buffs from around the globe each year. Having lived in the state for the first 40 years of my life, I personally have been there several times. Extended family and other visitors from out of state would often want us to accompany them to Springfield to see the historical sites while they were there. In some cases it would be the one and only time the opportunity would be available to them. A small item most of them remembered from their visit was the bust of old Abe just outside the tomb. His nose is bright and shiny, because everyone who goes in and out of the tomb gives it a rub.

We had moved to Texas by the time our youngest son was born and had the privilege of home schooling him. During our study of America’s presidents we thought it would be a great idea and a pleasant educational “field trip” to visit Springfield’s historical sites once again. So, we loaded the station wagon and headed back to the Prairie State for more on-site education.

During my tour of duty in the U.S. Army, I was stationed at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, for several months having been sent there from Ft. Hood, Texas. Realizing, that it may be the only time I would have the opportunity to be this close to a couple of historical sites, I decided to take advantage. One such place was the city of Philadelphia. This famous town was the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and many historical decisions. Carpenter’s Hall was open to the public and I was able see, but not touch, the Liberty Bell among many other artifacts from the era. If everyone who passed the bell gave it a rub, it would be as shiny as Abe’s nose.

Next, an army buddy and I boarded a flight to Washington, D.C. There we toured the White House, the Smithsonian Institute, the Capitol, The Supreme Court building and many of the monuments. We even went to the top of the Washington Monument. Since we only had 3-day passes it was a rushed tour, but one I’m glad we were able to take. However, memories of that trip are all I have. When we returned to Ft. Hood shortly thereafter, he was shipped off to Vietnam with all of the pictures we took and I never saw him again.

If you have the opportunity and are interested in America’s history, there are not many
better educational experiences than visiting her historical sites, especially with family, grandchildren or friends. Sharing those times together builds lasting memories as well.

 

Jerry Ginther is the author of "Acquiring the Benefits of Biblical Wisdom," available in e‑book format on Amazon.com. He and his wife reside in Texas. Contact Jerry at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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