Sunday, September 11, 2011

Employed Again

This has been a hectic week.  I was in a group of nine new temporary employees who are all bound for Afghanistan.  We spent Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday getting paperwork done, badges made, inoculations injected, and training accomplished.  It was a pretty well-organized whirlwind of activity.

Wednesday was a maddening day due to the weather.  Tropical Storm Lee hit DC that day.  We had to do a lot of running around between buildings.  It seemed like whenever we had to go outside, it POURED, and as soon as we reached our destination and got inside, it quit.  And, of course, we were all wearing the standard DC civilian uniform of blazer, tie, and nice shoes.  All of which were quickly soaked in the morning, so we remained in various stages of damp/wet/drenched the rest of the day.  It rained Thursday and Friday, too, but we all decided the hell with protocol and went with our Afghanistan field uniform of work shirts, cargo pants and heavy boots.

Yesterday (Saturday), I went up to Baltimore to visit my aunt and cousin.  It was great to see them again.  They've watched me go off to quite a few adventures over the years: joining the Navy, going off to Bosnia, going to Europe after retirement, then off to Iraq three years ago, and now this.  They're not surprised by any of my foolish decisions anymore.  I always know there's a home base for me in Baltimore whenever I need it.

Today I went up to Gettysburg.  Recently, I discovered that one of my ancestors fought in the 2nd Mississippi infantry regiment and was wounded and captured at Gettysburg, and wrote about it in a blog post.  Since Gettysburg is so close to Baltimore, I didn't want to pass up the opportunity.  Last time I was there was about 45 years ago (ouch) and we didn't know anything about my ancestor then.

Quick summary: my great-great-grandfather was a private in the 2nd Mississippi.  On the first day of the battle, they attacked Union forces just northeast of Gettysburg.  They routed some, then turned and hit others from the flank.  But then they were caught in a deep cut in the hill for a railroad bed.  The sides were too steep to climb, it was too deep to fire out of, and Union forces were on the top of the cut and advancing down the tracks.  It was a killing ground before they surrendered.

Today I saw the spot where this action took place.  I have to say, exploring a national monument such as the Gettysburg battlefield is different when you have a personal connection to it.  Seeing the field across which my great-great-grandfather advanced, the ridge line where he helped route Union forces, and then the deep cut where he was trapped, wounded, and captured, was deeply moving.  Of 494 soldiers in the 2nd Mississippi that morning, 411 were killed, wounded, captured, or missing.  Numbers are one thing; knowing that one of those numbers was a personal ancestor is another.

Later, I went to see the site of Pickett's Charge.  The remnants of the 2nd Mississippi participated in that disaster.  Of 60 men who set out across the field, only one was not killed, wounded, or captured.  I stood on the spot where my great-great-grandfather's unit had started from and looked out across the field.  It was a very humbling experience.

Now I'm back in the DC area.  Gettysburg is behind me.  Tomorrow we start another class to get trained up for Afghanistan.  

1 comment:

John Smith said...

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