Sunday, January 18, 2009

#inaug09 Along the Civil War trail

Second leg of Inauguration-palooza was long and intense. We drove through the Ohio Valley into Pennsylvania, West Virginia and then Western Maryland. It’s mountain-country – rugged and beautiful.

Stopped in southeastern Ohio, near Wheeling. We were looking for a mall to get long underwear and struck it rich. A Circuit City! We did our Great Depression duty and shopped at CC for a digital camera our family has been wanting to buy for years. Yep we still have a film camera. So we figured – let’s take advantage of the closing down the business sale.

Got a great camera – lots of folks in the store – and depressing. Talked to a couple of workers there. They just found out a day ago it was closing. No time to get other job prospects. Of course – other jobs??? Not too many around. The country is shedding them faster than my dog sheds his fur. This is such a deep crisis.

“Obama wants to extend unemployment insurance to part-timers who lose their job,” my husband tells one of the workers there. “Yeah. That would be good,” he says. He works part-time at Circuit City. All these part-time workers aren’t eligible now for unemployment. Pretty outrageous.

As we poked through the basket of $6.96 (plus 10 percent discount) iPod covers we start talking to a lady. Turns out her daughter is on her way with her school to the inauguration.

This part of Ohio is coal and steel country – majority white families. The governor – Ted Strickland – is from the area and along with the mine workers and steelworkers unions – the area went for Obama.

Crossing into Pennsylvania and W. Virginia the mountains start to get steeper. Then the snow came. Crazy things can happen in the mountains at night, I hear our comrade Joe Sims’ voice saying. Luckily, the snow wasn’t sticking and no ice.

We go across the Civil War trail in Maryland – near Fredericksburg – where the Confederate troops crossed the Mason-Dixon line into Pennsylvania. Big battles in Chambersburg and of course Gettysburg. Wow. This is a long journey in more ways then one.

Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg has been called one of the most profound and poetic political speech in American history. Here it is.

The Gettysburg Address

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
November 19, 1863

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.

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