Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Rick picked me up from the airport and we drove through DC on our way to Gettysburg. We drove by my favorite place, the Lincoln Memorial. It was important to me since it was his 200th birthday that day! After the quick drive around the city, we headed up to Gettysburg.

We were lucky to be in Gettysburg during the opening of the David Wills home. It was a $7.2 million restoration project that took over 2 years. The grand opening took place in honor of Lincoln's bicentennial.

The Wills home is in the center of town and it was the home where Abraham Lincoln stayed the night before he gave his Gettysburg address. It is here, in his room, where he put the finishing touches on the historic speech. Because of Syd's story, the Gettysburg Address has so much more meaning and significance to us. It was a significant place for us to be, celebrating this great man.

The bed and dresser stayed in the Wills family all these years, and because of detailed diaries and journals, they were able to restore the room just as it was the night Lincoln stayed.

Because of Syd's moving tribute, finding Isaac Taylor's grave in the National Cemetery was important to us. It is still marked "unknown," even though they now know it is his grave. Apparently, in National Cemeteries, you are not able to ever change names on the graves once they have been labeled.

This is the monument erected in honor of the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, which Isaac had been a part of. The men of the 1st Minnesota are most remembered for their actions on July 2, 1863, during the second day's fighting at Gettysburg, where the regiment prevented the confederates from pushing the federals off of Cemetery Ridge, a position that was to be crucial in the battle. There had been a large gap in the Union's line and they needed to buy some time before a large regiment would be able to arrive. This infantry was sent to battle, to be "sacrificed" in order to buy that precious time. The small infantry was out-numbered 3 to 1. The unit's flag fell five times and rose again each time. 215 of the 262 men were killed in this battle, but they were successful. It had saved the valuable position, as well as the battlefield. The 83 percent casualty rate stands to this day as the largest loss by any surviving military unit in American history during any single engagement. The thing that makes me shiver is the fact that these young men knew that they were being sacrificed. They knew that they would more than likely not survive. They were dedicated and brave.

This is the monument that is near the Minnesota division in the cemetery. It was placed there by the few survivors of that battle, in memory of their fallen comrades.

Here, in the National Cemetery, was where Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address. What sacred ground this is.

We toured the battlegrounds of Gettysburg. It was very cold and windy, but it was nice to be the only ones there. It made it much more peaceful and spiritual. You can really feel the reverence in those fields.

The words of the Gettysburg Address now means so much more to us...
"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

For more information on Syd & Adrienne Lieberman's story, "Abraham & Isaac, Sacrifice at Gettysburg," go to Syd's website. There you can listen to exerpts of his story, or even purchase the CD. He will be coming to our storytelling festival on Labor Day weekend and I'm sure he will be telling it again at that time.