After breakfast I went back to my room and read Jane Austen until I got the text that said that the Ohio contingent was amassing and moving to Ernie's for lunch. I met up with them there and decided to revisit the beef tomato soup I so enjoyed as a kid. Sad truth is that this soup did not hold up well to my memory or current taste buds. There was a metallic taste to it, the beef was rather dry and though I like beef jerky I'm not really all that fond of it in soup form. I tried to get past it, but the majority of this soup went to waste.
I had a simpler dog too, just mustard. E. realized that he could order 'one with' and then scoop some of the excess chili and onions onto a second simpler dog. Clever. Thrifty. We met up with our Gettysburg cousins F. and N., and an epic round of 'let's show each other photos of our grand kids' began between E. and N. Sweet kids all of them (I only know E.'s).
After that we went to the Gettysburg Visitor Center. It continued to be an extremely gloomy day and the walk from the parking lot included a consistent drizzle and dampness I could have done without. The visitor center is huge and relatively new. We went the whole hog and had tickets for the introductory movie, cyclorama and admission to the exhibits. The movie, narrated by Morgan Freeman, traced the events that led up to the Civil War as well as some of the particulars of Gettysburg. I was tearing up during the opening scenes. Hearing about the stupidity of the situation in the first place (ie: ever thinking slavery was a good idea, mixing the rights of human beings with the profits of business etc etc) and then reflecting on the sheer loss of life. And then. I don't know. I couldn't help but think about the Trayvon Martin story and while yes, things are markedly improved from the days of slavery, the ramifications of that time period and the Civil War clearly haven't abated entirely. Men fought and died over something as dumb as race, and men continue to die over it whether they want to or not. I'm not a scholar. Nor do I have an incredibly nuanced view of race politics. It just made me so sad to think that all that blood spilled on both sides, and we haven't really grown all the way up as a nation on that specific topic. I'm not someone who has a fully rational or informed academic position on the true causes of the Civil War nor the true impact it had on our society. I was, however, struck by one part of the film that mentions the incredible destruction of the south's buildings and infrastructure, and how long and hard the process of rebuilding was, which of course played a role in subsequent decades of interaction between north and south, black and white. After the movie we took an escalator up to the cyclorama, which really is something to see. Oil canvas all the way around, the way they've set it up there are moments where the canvas stops and the rest begins. Then there were the exhibits and relics of the massive cleanup and burial process that all Gettysburg citizens had to deal with post-battle. Thousands of corpses taking months and months to properly bury or return to their families. The smell in some places must have been something.
Ok enough of my ill informed thoughts on the Civil War. We spent a nice chunk of time around the facility before braving the continued rain to pile into our two cars and go to the Outlets. Except I stayed in the car and read Pride and Prejudice while they shopped.