Saturday, June 28, 2008

Touring Antietam Battlefield.

I took a few days off this weekend to drive from Chicago to Sharpsburg, Maryland where my 11-year old son and I toured the Antietam National Battlefield. We're both interested in the Civil War. Last year we visited Gettysburg.

For those who don't know, Antietam (also known as Sharpsburg) took place on September 17, 1862. It was the bloodiest single one day of the entire war. Of nearly 100,000 soldiers engaged in battle, about 23,000 were killed, wounded, or missing.

From a historical perspective, this battle may have been a turning point in the Civil War because it led to Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves. It also reduced the threat of England or France entering the war on the side of the South.

However, as I toured the battlefield I could only imagine the courage and sacrifice of men on both sides, charging into the fire of cannon and muskets, facing certain death. While I served 3 years in the Army after college (1968-71) I was never in combat, or in serious danger. Thus, I can only admire what men and women have done throughout history, on battlefields like this, all over the world.

I can also thank them for the freedom they have given us.

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