As we prepare for today’s Independence Day celebrations, and our country’s 237th birthday, let us not forget another very important anniversary in the battle for this country’s independence. The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. This week an estimated 200,000 people will be visiting the famous Pennsylvania battlefields either as participants or observers at this most hallowed place.
Several years ago myself and my 2 sons visited Gettysburg since it was one of the places I had to visit form my bucket list, and also because of an indirect family tie. You see my Great Grandfather, David Steele Houser was a private in the 5th Virginia Infantry Regiment, Sonewall’s Brigade. And even though he wasn’t at Gettysburg (he was recovering from wounds received at the Battle of Port Republic) his unit was.
Sometimes I’ll reflect on how destiny brought me to where I am now. If Private Houser wasn’t wounded would he have made it to Gettysburg with the rest of the 5th Virginia? Would he have survived those hot, bloody July days so long ago? How did he survive his internment at Fort Delaware, (a.k.a. Andersonville of the North) as a prisoner of war after being captured at the Battle Spotsylvania Court House?
Soldier; thy battles are over,
The cause that you cherished, is lost;
Yet you nobly did all that you could,
Not counting privations or loss.
Then sleep the calm sleep of the weary,
“As a soldier taking his rest;”
When the long day of conflict is over
And the call come to battle no more.