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Any other battlefield walkers out there?
Old 09-20-2010, 10:14 AM   #1
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Any other battlefield walkers out there?

I studied military history and technology as an undergrad so walking battlefields and fortresses comes very naturally. I find that some battlefields evoke the battle very clearly, while others are just fields, no matter what the historical importance. I have my own favorites but I wonder if anyone else has the same reaction?

Most thoughtful battlefield experiences

Gettysburg, Omaha Beach, El Alemein, Bastogne in deep winter, Stirling (bridge) and the Tutobergerwald in a misty rain are very impressive and scary places.

Any that you like ?


(The USS Arizona is one of the most impressive memorials, but I think of it in a different class)
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Old 09-20-2010, 10:57 AM   #2
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BTW, here's a few pictures of the American Cemetary in Belgium (Battle of the Bulge, in which my FIL saw action) If you find any "value" in it, I pity you:
If you don't see the value in honoring those who sacrificed their lives to keep not only this nation, but the entire world free of domination by those who brought us the Holocaust and Pearl Harbor, then perhaps it is you who need our pity.
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Old 09-20-2010, 11:03 AM   #3
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There are lots more cemeteries like that all over Belgium and (particularly) the North-East part of France. All beautifully kept - the lawns look like they get cut with nail scissors every morning. Very sad places to be, though.

+1 about Omaha Beach. DW and I were there this summer, including a walk along the cliff at Fox Red, the extreme Eastern edge of the beach which was pretty much the first German position captured on D-Day. We sat and thought what it must have been like on both sides.
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Old 09-20-2010, 11:11 AM   #4
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So you would rather celebrate war than eliminate it?


I don't see a cemetery as a celebration of anything.
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Old 09-20-2010, 12:16 PM   #5
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Antietam?

Carnage At Antietam, 1862

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The ensuing battle on September 17 produced the bloodiest day in American combat history with over 23,000 casualties on both sides. More than twice as many Americans were killed or mortally wounded in combat at Antietam that day as in the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Spanish-American War combined.
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Old 09-20-2010, 12:22 PM   #6
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(BTW, you've just been added to my ignore list, so don't bother responding)...
OK. I was just gonna say I know how you much love it, so you're welcome back in Texas any time...
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Old 09-20-2010, 12:37 PM   #7
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(BTW, you've just been added to my ignore list, so don't bother responding)...
Would you consider volunteers?
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Old 09-20-2010, 12:39 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Emeritus View Post
I studied military history and technology as an undergrad so walking battlefields and fortresses comes very naturally. I find that some battlefields evoke the battle very clearly, while others are just fields, no matter what the historical importance. I have my own favorites but I wonder if anyone else has the same reaction?

Most thoughtful battlefield experiences

Gettysburg, Omaha Beach, El Alemein, Bastogne in deep winter, Stirling (bridge) and the Tutobergerwald in a misty rain are very impressive and scary places.

Any that you like ?


(The USS Arizona is one of the most impressive memorials, but I think of it in a different class)
The Civil War battlegrounds are haunting and eerie. Also, the memorial to the Battle of Little Big Horn I think it definitely worth seeing.
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Old 09-20-2010, 01:04 PM   #9
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The Civil War battlegrounds are haunting and eerie. Also, the memorial to the Battle of Little Big Horn I think it definitely worth seeing.
My brother was recognized as an authority on the "survivor" of that battle -- Medal of Honor recipient, Peter Thompson. Nathaniel Philbrick, author of The Last Stand, tells of having turned in his final manuscript to the publisher and, after meeting Rocky, had to rewrite it. In the Spring edition of American Heritage, he wrote an article on this battle entitled Custer vs Sitting Bull: the Real Story in which he tells of visiting the battlefield with him.

AmericanHeritage.com / Undying Fame

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It wasn’t until early last summer, soon after completing the first draft of The Last Stand, that I managed to track down one of the presenters at that conference, a resident of Rapid City, South Dakota, named Rocky Boyd. Rocky had spent years researching Peter Thompson, and after several phone calls and a lengthy e-mail exchange, we made plans to meet at the battlefield in early July.

Rocky arrived with his daughter, Kelly, and his seven-year-old grandson, Andrew. For my part, I was accompanied by Mike Hill, my friend and researcher. We secured permits from the park rangers to go “off road” in search of Thompson’s trail. The plan was for Rocky and Andrew to remain on the bluffs, where Rocky would direct Mike, Kelly, and me (all of us sporting ranger-provided orange vests) by cell phone as we tramped over the dusty, sun-baked banks of the Little Bighorn.

It proved to be an extraordinary afternoon. After three and a half years of research, I began to see the ravines, coulees, and bluffs along the Little Bighorn in an entirely different way. Instead of a stretch of terrain to be analyzed and evaluated, this was now a living landscape of fear, exhilaration, and suffering.

Rocky had been in contact with Peter Thompson’s descendants, and with his help I was given permission to consult an unpublished manuscript written by Thompson’s daughter, Susan, in the 1970s, in which she quotes extensively from her father’s original notebook as well as from an, early draft of his narrative. Most exciting of all, Susan, who was seven years old when her father wrote the final version of his narrative, recounted the stories her father had told her about the battle, several of which never made it into his narrative.
Having been to the Greasy Grass battlefield many times, I can tell you, it is a lot larger than one imagines.
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Old 09-20-2010, 01:52 PM   #10
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Rewahoo and Rescueme: I have the impression that there might be a mutual misunderstanding here. Nobody celebrates wars nor cemeteries. But all of us must show respect -if not admiratio-n for those who died in them in the line of duty, regardless of the justification of said wars.
And in my opinion there is a certain beauty and a sobering effect when one observes many of your cemeteries.
We in Spain, sadly, have very few of those.
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Old 09-20-2010, 05:44 PM   #11
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I live in an area with several French and Indian War era battlefields and encampments. I find it haunting to visit them and walk over the same ground that bore witness to epic moments in our early history. I have also visited some of the Civil War battlefields and felt terrible sorrow at the thought of all the bloodshed. When I was 19, I was flying home from the Far East with my Dad, and he insisted we stopover in Hawaii for a few days as he wanted to visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial. We were both teary at the site. Dad enlisted in the Army Air Corps at age 36 just after Dec. 7 so it was particularly meaningful to him.
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Old 09-20-2010, 06:00 PM   #12
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Visiting Antietam, I could see in my mind's eye what I had until then only read about. There is something about seeing the Cornfield, the Sunken Road and Burnside Bridge to, in some small measure, bring home the awful tragedy of those days.

It has always amazed me that there was ever more than one battle in the Civil War. Once can be excused as ignorance, but once experienced it seems impossible that men would do it twice. I try to imagine what it would be like to be one of the troops who lived through the maelstrom. After lining up in their hundreds within rock-throwing distance and then unleashing a hailstorm of lead on each other, I don't know how anyone who survived ever did it again.
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Old 09-20-2010, 06:43 PM   #13
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Being a military history nut, I definitely seek out famous battlefields. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see many (some Battle of Britain, and a very brief stop at Anzio) in my few trips to Europe. I very much enjoyed Gettysburg, and I remember going to one as high school student Shiloh (I think) that was terrific.

Guadalcanal was somewhat disappointing because while there is plenty of wrecks. The jungles and civilization have transformed much of it and the guides weren't very good.

However, hands down the best battlefield I ever went to was Gallipoli. Best known to those of us in the States as one of Mel Gibson's breakout movies, is called the battle that formed three nations (Turkey, New Zealand, Australia). It is remarkably well preserved. But what makes it memorable is the fantastic tour guide who's uncle and grandfather (IIRC) fought there. He did a magnificent job. Enough that my girlfriend who couldn't have carried less about going there was enthralled by the day. I don't remember the guides name, but he is listed in the tour guides books as the best and they are right.

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Old 09-20-2010, 06:46 PM   #14
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It has always amazed me that there was ever more than one battle in the Civil War. Once can be excused as ignorance, but once experienced it seems impossible that men would do it twice. I try to imagine what it would be like to be one of the troops who lived through the maelstrom. After lining up in their hundreds within rock-throwing distance and then unleashing a hailstorm of lead on each other, I don't know how anyone who survived ever did it again.
Amen.

I read "The Killer Angels" before visiting Gettysburg. Words cannot describe the insanity of how those men fought slaughtered each other. I still get chills thinking about what the battle must have been like, and I suspect my worst nightmare pales in comparison to reality.
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Old 09-20-2010, 07:46 PM   #15
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Hey, REWahoo, the poster you're quoting seems to have had his material gone missing from the thread.

I was going to chip in to point out that all of these monuments and memorials support mankind's eternal hope that someone will learn from history instead of repeating it. If we don't preserve the evidence then someone will decide that they've found a way that's really different this time.

If any of you should ever have a chance to chip in as a volunteer or a board member at a memorial/monument, it's a labor of love. Spouse finds it extraordinarily educational and quite fulfilling. The new Pearl Harbor visitor's center & museums, along with the refurbished theater, raised nearly $50M of funds for the project. (Ironically, much of it came from defense contractors.) The ship and the memorial itself are unchanged but now the shore infrastructure can handle the visitor traffic. The higher revenue (from the bookstore; the boat trip itself is free) will also keep the memorial preserved in perpetuity. A significant portion of that money is funding a perpetual endowment for education-- oral history & videoteleconferences of the survivors, trips by Japanese school teachers and other nationalities, and other Pacific memorials which do not have the same access to funds.

Last night most of the local Pearl Harbor survivors earned their annual 600-hour pins at a testimonial dinner. That's a volunteer effort averaging 12 hours a week for the entire year, and most of these guys were over 1000 hours. As they sit at the visitor's center, sharing their memories with whoever sits down next to them, they collect donations in a tip jar. These guys pulled in over $100K in one year just from the tip jar.
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Old 09-20-2010, 07:52 PM   #16
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I haven't been myself but I understand that the WW I battlefields of Verdun and the Somme (1st and 2nd) still show the vast number of shell-pocks. I understand that it's a pretty eerie place
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Old 09-20-2010, 08:19 PM   #17
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I haven't been myself but I understand that the WW I battlefields of Verdun and the Somme (1st and 2nd) still show the vast number of shell-pocks. I understand that it's a pretty eerie place
Verdun is is a giant expressive monument to suffering and bravery and stupidity
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Old 09-20-2010, 09:37 PM   #18
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Amen.

I read "The Killer Angels" before visiting Gettysburg. Words cannot describe the insanity of how those men fought slaughtered each other. I still get chills thinking about what the battle must have been like, and I suspect my worst nightmare pales in comparison to reality.
I've gone to Gettysburg a few times and standing at the "Angle" which was just to the side of the clump of trees that Lee aimed at during Picketts charge is a strange feeling.

I've read numerous books on the Revolution and the Civil War and would love to do more exploring but DW has other ideas.
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Old 09-20-2010, 10:17 PM   #19
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I've gone to Gettysburg a few times and standing at the "Angle" which was just to the side of the clump of trees that Lee aimed at during Picketts charge is a strange feeling.

I've read numerous books on the Revolution and the Civil War and would love to do more exploring but DW has other ideas.

The angle is very special, but Little Round top where Strong Vincent and Joshua saved the key point of the whole line is actually the "high point" of the Confederacy. Nice place to take DW for a walk in the woods.

Kings Mountain is another evocative stroll
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Old 09-20-2010, 11:57 PM   #20
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I was going to chip in to point out that all of these monuments and memorials support mankind's eternal hope that someone will learn from history instead of repeating it. If we don't preserve the evidence then someone will decide that they've found a way that's really different this time.
Aye.
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