I love this place where thousands died

Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield National Park, Kennesaw Georgia

The weather has been crazy here in Georgia and I’m beginning to like it.  While the normal temperature for 8:00 am this time of year is usually 85F (that’s 29 for my Celsius measuring friends) this morning it was 71F and gorgeous so I decided to go for a run outdoors at The Battlefield instead of inside my stinky gym.

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Even though I am a transplant from New York, I am so proud to live in Georgia where it’s so green and there are places to go to enjoy nature. One of those places is Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield.  It is an actual Civil War Battlefield just north of Atlanta where thousands lost their lives during Sherman’s “march to the sea”. (remember “Gone With the Wind?”) The Civil War (or “The War of Northern Aggression”, as my southern friends like to call it) was one of the most brutal in all of history and was fought from 1861-1865.  That was not really that long ago really…My father-in-law loved to tell the story of when he was a young boy in the late 1920’s and he would stand on the side of the road watching the Veteran’s Day Parade and would see the Civil War veterans riding in the convertibles at the front.  This seems impossible until you realize that some of the “soldiers” in the Civil War were only 15 years old. 650,000 lost their lives. (Compare that to the 521,000 that lost their lives in WWI and WWII combined.)  It was a dark time in US history.

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Even though the trail winds up and around a mountain, the path I usually choose is pretty flat. But when I reached the place I usually turn around, I kept going.  I’m not sure why.  It was so beautiful this morning and I was feeling pretty great….until I started to hit those hills.

I have a system for running hills….head down leaning in a bit …looking just in front of me….I slow my pace and shorten my steps until I get to the top of the hill…then I relax coming down and I’m able to look around.

It made me realize that this is how I’ve tackled the steepest “hills” of my life.  One step at a time…head down…not looking too far forward but keeping my gaze focused right in front of me….not knowing when the hill would crest, but having faith that it would eventually.

Then I came to the place of the Illinois Monument.  This impressive monument was built to pay tribute to the soldiers of the Union from Illinois who lost their lives here.  The setting of the monument was where the actual battle took place.

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I stopped for a minute and closed my eyes to imagine what it must have been like on those hot Georgia days of June in 1864…the soldiers in their wool uniforms with muskets in hand waiting to kill their fellow countrymen…or be killed.  The sounds of cannons…the screams of the wounded….the smell of the smoking firearms….the total chaos.

And then I opened my eyes and took a deep breath.  Peace was all I could feel.  The sky was the most amazing color blue and the trees were waving at me in the breeze.  Birds and butterflies danced.  It was hard to believe that 150 years ago, right on this very spot, there was so much suffering and madness.

The fact that I was standing in this spot and was feeling a deep sense of peace gave me so much hope.

I’m sure if you told someone living in this area at that time that 150 years from now, the USA would be one country, this area would be a park where people would come to relax, and that a woman from New York would be writing about how great it was, they would think you were off your rocker (that’s southern for “crazy”).

So if you are bothered by insanity and strife…either in your own life or in the world in general, take comfort in the fact that there is the potential for peace and serenity anywhere…even if it seems impossible.

(This Kumbaya moment was brought to you by The Savvy Sister. We now return you to your regularly scheduled sarcastic blog posts)



Categories: happiness, health, running, spirituality, thoughts

Tags: , , ,

7 replies

  1. The War of Northern Aggression – that made me laugh because you are right – that’s what they/we say! It is hard to fathom the sheer number of people who lost their lives in the Civil War, and even harder to imagine the suffering all of the soldiers endured. But peace ultimately won out and always will. Beautiful post, Susan.

  2. I’ve been visiting and hiking at Kennesaw Mountain since I was a Boy Scout in high school. We even had a few work days where we worked on the trails. The last time we were there they were in the midst of a reenactment. Loved your post!

    Bernie

  3. Thanks for this — I’ve walked that battlefield and it is ironically a very peaceful place. I have the same hopeful thoughts when I think of former violence in Ireland and South Africa — situations the world thought were hopeless, and yet, they are now a memory.

  4. A very moving piece. A beautiful sentiment to conclude with.

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