Friday, March 13, 2009

Next Stop:

I have started my “Lincoln Memorial” commentary so many times. But I keep stopping and starting because I just don’t know how to quite capture the overwhelming feeling that moved me to tears while there.

It wasn’t so much the massive stone carving of an imposing and remarkable Abraham Lincoln, although that was impressive still.

It also wasn’t just about the beautiful Romanesque building that encased this large carving, with its large stone columns and breathtaking monolithic steps welcoming and beckoning you to come within.

It was, however, the simple and humble words of a leader, tired of contention, and weary of massive bloodshed, who stood on a hill soon after the most brutal battle of the most devastating war in U.S. History, to hopefully bring peace to the land and some form of unity to the People. A Union that, ironically, needed to be “united”, had been split apart for so many years with so many lives lost.

His speech, you all know as the Gettysburg Address, was given as a dedication to the Gettysburg National Cemetery, honoring the 50,000 Americans who lost their lives in this single three-day battle, hoping to bring equality to all the nation’s citizens and bring harmony to a receding country. His speech was then replicated on a 50 foot wall inside a Memorial for all to read, in turn, giving honor to him and the change he made.

I had never read this speech out loud before. Can you believe I'm admitting that? I'm sure many of you have never done the same. Even if you just read it all the way through, I would still be impressed. I had read it a few times in school, and admittedly, sometimes never even got through the whole thing. And if I had made it through, my brain petered out partway through. I had never truly appreciated the words that were spoken, and am embarrassed to say that because it was such a short speech. Only maybe 4 or 5 paragraphs long, and I totally didn't "get it".

But this time when I read it, I had ulterior motives. I wanted my girls to really get something out of it. I wanted them to remember it. (And of course, at that point, I was trying to find any homeschooling lesson out of everything we were doing.) Before I read it, I had just finished doing my best at being a storyteller...explaining to them about the Civil War, quizzing them about why they had been fighting, and teaching them about why it was such a devastating and memorable war.

And because I wanted it to be memorable for them, I kind of overplayed it…just being an overboard mom, putting flexion in my voice and reading it with a lot of drama. I was trying to put emphasis on as many words as I could and thought important.

What a powerful thing I was reading. Such short and simple words, yet every word had been chosen carefully so as to persuade the people to stop fighting and bring peace to the land. And without realizing it, it was I who was being moved at the same time.

Partway through reading, I surprised myself when my voice cracked for a moment. I even had a tear in my eye. And for a moment I kind of chuckled. Was I actually being moved by this?

I was. And I had to take a deep breath in order to get through it. And happily, the girls were moved to. As I read, they just stood there reading along with me.

Once finished, they just stood there quietly. Amongst the hundreds of people who were there, there was silence. And they understood.

What did they do next? The silence was broken when they broke into a run heading straight toward the gift shop and bought a copy of the Gettysburg Address on replicated old parchment paper and carefully placed it in their scrapbook.

1 comment:

Randi said...

When is all of this fun going to stop? I am so jealous that I am not allowed to go past Tucson and your family is running all over creation. I am just glad that I get to see the pictures...makes me feel like I was there.