I wanted to add more about my trip to Gettysburg. I have now read several books about the Civil War and even an entire book about Gettysburg, the stories are so rich and true, no exaggeration required, just pure heart wrenching pursuit of a better future.
Anyways, there are places in Gettysburg where a couple hundred people had to hold off thousands. There are trenches were hundreds were shot and captured. There are ridges that sustained hours and hours of attacks until they were out of ammunition and had to charge down the hill with just their bayonets to give everything they had to protect their flank. I tried to articulate these stories on the ground in which they occurred to my children. I did my best to paint a vivid scene of what was happening where we stood 152 years ago, but as I spoke, the kids could do nothing but tickle, wrestle, and run around the sacred park chasing after each other. I realized that I was now “that dad”, the dad taking 6 and 8 year old kids on a trip to visit historical battlefields. I imagined that they were going to be totally into it, that they would grasp the historical importance, and thank me for my insider knowledge from reading all those books, instead, they were like “Dad, I am going to stick my arm in this cannon.”
The gift shop sells a book with CDs in it. You pop in the CD, drive to the battlefield where a very clearly marked sign saying “AUDIO TOUR STOP 1” with a big star on it, stop your car and listen to exactly what happened at the spot you are now sitting. The CDs are not just some guy talking, they have great audio effects and actors reading actual quotes from the battle. I have done a tour with an actual Park Ranger who drove my car around and explained all the sights and I have done the CD audio tour, the CD Audio Tour is the way to go.
In the end, I think the kids will remember two things:
1. The North battled the South at Gettysburg
2. Gettysburg is a pretty boring field in the middle of nowhere