Sunday, August 8, 2010

On Fame's Eternal Camping Ground

Every other Saturday night during the summer months, the battlefield offers the "Hallowed Ground" tours. On these tours, rangers lead visitors through the national cemetery as costumed cast members read letters and journal entries from the soldiers buried there. The whole tour is led by latern light.

I am always torn about the tour. Knowing that is how I am going to spend my "Friday" night makes me drag just a little. "Ugh," I think, "I just want to go hoooome after this long and hot week." I go home to grab a bite to eat and change into a clean, pressed shirt before the tour and put on my ranger smile to push through the last few hours of work.

The tour is quite possibly my favorite to lead. With each stop and each introduction, my ranger smile melts into my real smile. Every character portrays true hardships experienced by a soldier or family member during the Civil War. As I listen to the stories, I realize that any troubles I have are nothing compared to what these guys went through.

The final character portrayed is Theodore O'Hara, author of "The Bivouac of the Dead," reciting his poem. My favorite line, "On Fame's eternal camping ground, their silent tents are spread; And Glory guards with solemn round, the bivouac of the dead," pulls the whole tour together for me. The 7,000 soldiers buried at the cemetery gave the ultimate sacrifice to their country. I have one of the coolest jobs in the world in that I get to share their stories with countless visitors daily. I need to remember that when the day-to-day grind appears to wear on me.

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