Find Your History

Morning is gone, without rain, the sun safe to show its face. I’ve been out to get Panera miche…best for toasting…and cookies for the goodies table at my writers’ group. Add a hot shower, a short nap, and I’m good to go.

I dream of a trip, a long weekend, maybe. Likely I’ll get away by myself. Where to go, short term? The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania beckons. It’s a miniature of Arizona’s Grand, but way closer. Doable. An overnight. That’s been on my back burner for a long time, including many decades living in my native state.

My husband is  a war buff, specifically Civil and Revolutionary. He was, when young, so well versed in the Battle at Gettysburg, you’d think him a reincarnated soldier. He should have been giving tours. Walking every inch of that ghost-inhabited acreage, with him laying out the battle, I felt I’d been a soldier in another dimension. Gettysburg is alive with ghosts who nudge and whisper. If you go in autumn, the area is painfully beautiful. Crisp red apples hang on nearly every tree, crunchy, tangy, sweet within the overwhelming color of whole mountains of dying leaves.

All of Pennsylvania feels the same with history oozing from the dirt at every turn. Growing up immersed in the Brandywine Valley, living cheek by jowl with Valley Forge, sleeping in the cradle of democracy, the southeastern part of the state is as familiar to me as the inside of my mouth. The Marquis de Lafayette, Cornwallis,  General Washington,  Baron Von Steuben, Count Pulaski, Mad Anthony Wayne, Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton, so real I know them. The average age of officers? Twenty eight and a half. Lafayette? 21. DuPonceau, a lad of 18. But the generals were comprised of older men.

Countless roads bear their names, so it’s possible to live along a road bearing one and never know the honor. Pennsylvania markers abound with little pieces of history, that subject I hear is no longer taught in school. Is it true we have thrown history away? Such a thought is anathema to someone defined by the fight for independence.

It’s true. Time marches on, I get it. But it’s a great mistake to leave these people behind, whacked out of memory, irrelevant. They are the bedrock in which our existence resided, fought for, saved. They are remnants of the past that created our future.

The great city of Philadelphia holds the history of the nation. Take a whole week and walk the history path that reveals why we are who we are as a people. Go with a guide. Carve out a day or two to sample the incredible cuisine of a diverse city, and choose from several fabulous museums.  Dress up and go to the Kimmel, to see a play or listen to the symphony. Experience what sound was intended to be. Inside the Kimmel is like having a seat within a cello. There’s nothing else like it.

This wasn’t meant to be a travelogue, but to entice you to time travel in a single place to discover your past, which will enlighten you about your present, and point you to your future.

In this election year much is at stake. Americans across the nation are paying attention. Choose wisely. This time we’re choosing for each other, not just ourselves. Listen to the candidates with both ears and a good chunk of your heart. Take notes. Who said what. Revisit them after a week in your drawer and see if you think anything they said made sense. This is your home. And mine. Government is made up of our representatives. Find their phone numbers. Call ’em up. Make them answerable. Most of them don’t know you’re out here. Let them know. Where did I learn that?

In Philadelphia.


One thought on “Find Your History

  1. I will never forget my first ride into Gettysburg…tree lined streets with what looked like battlegrounds…yup I was young…but remember it well, saw the diorama of the battle ….spent a couple of wonderful days …I was born and raised in Garfield Heights….not as exciting as the memories of Gettysburg…thanks for the trip through memory lane…I think I will go back as you suggest….probably will appreciate it more!!


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