Monday, September 29, 2008

Four score and seven years ago

"Patrons stroll through the museum portion of the new Gettysburg visitor center, which also includes the restored Cyclorama painting, artifacts and is in walking distance to the Historic Gettysburg battlefield."

One of the best things about being a photojournalist, aside from "100 Things Completely Right About Our Jobs," is getting to meet new people and often getting to visit new places each and everyday.

A couple weeks ago, not only did I meet a bunch of new folks, I also got to travel to the home of battle with the largest number of casualties during the American Civil War - Gettysburg, Pa.

For as long as I could remember, I've always wanted to venture up to Gettysburg to catch a glimpse of this historic town, battle field and possibly hunt some ghosts.

Now, let's get a couple things straight first.

For starts, I am not believer in ghosts, spirits, what have you. Sure I've had my share of spooks and what I could possibly call haunts, but not enough to say these paranormal ideologies exist.

In contrast, I have heard stories of the popular attraction (read: fun and spooky) to the town during October and Halloween. So with that, I'd still be willing to at least be scared by (fake or real) ghosts.

Second, I am no historian. From what I can recall, I've never been a fan of history courses in school, and my grades, no matter what the era of time and course, can attest.

That doesn't go to say my 11th grade U.S. History course with good old Mr.Walker wasn't one of my favorite classes and professors in my schooling career. His method of teaching was one I will always remember and it was one course I can still recall a lot of the facts.

OK, I am getting side tracked. Although Mr.Walker taught me everything I know about U.S. History, so it's important to this post. And I had fun trying to recall my knowledge with some of the local reenactor in Gettysburg.

Moving along. What was awesome about this assignment was that not only was I working, I was learning and having some fun, too. Which doesn't say much, because I always try to have a good time and learn a thing or two on every assignment.

My main objective was to get some images of the Cyclorama, which is a 360-degree circular oil-on-canvas painting that depicts climactic Confederate attack on the Union center. Along with this, I had to focus on the new visitor center, with the fresh museum and ancient artifacts that lived within.

Following that, I drove a couple miles norther and climbed on top a couple building roofs (with permission) in downtown Gettysburg for some other overall shots the editor wanted.

The assignment called for additional images, including the town square, so I asked the manager of the tallest building if I could possibly get on the roof. Just to note, I think he was more excited than I was that he got to get on the roof.

To conclude my evening, I roamed the entire battle field. All day I had been waiting to get out there see what I had been missing since 1863... I mean 1985.

You can call me crazy, but I was expecting a lot more than what it was. I guess it comes down to me still not being a huge history buff, but for those that have never been, it's not much more than a bunch of land, rock formations and statues and memorials.

Don't call me ungrateful or naive. I still enjoyed my time there and learned a little more than I had already known. I guess I was expecting reenactors, gun firing and corpses.

So aside from having to use the primitive way of getting around (a map) instead of my GPS, walking around in the rain for an hour and not seeing any ghosts or living soldiers, I had a great day in Gettysburg.


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