Our Country's Fiery Ordeal

A blog about the American Civil War, written and maintained by historian Daniel J. Vermilya, author of The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain (History Press, 2014) and James Garfield and the Civil War (History Press, 2015)

Dedicated to my great-great-great grandfather, Private Ellwood Rodebaugh, Company D, 106th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, killed at the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862.

"And may an Overuling Providence continue to cause good to come out of evil, justice to be done to all men where injustice has long prevailed, and finally, peace, quiet, and harmony to come out of this terrible confrontation and our country's fiery ordeal." -- Albert Champlin, 105th Ohio, Diary entry of June 19, 1864 (Western Reserve Historical Society)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Greatest Job in the World

As I have written on here numerous times, I have wanted to be a park ranger at a Civil War battlefield for as long as I can remember. Having worked the past few years at Antietam has been a blessing beyond belief. Having the opportunity to work at Gettysburg, especially for the 150th anniversary, is a dream come true as well. And, perhaps most importantly, it has reminded me why I go through everything I do to continue being a park ranger. Going several months every winter without knowing what my NPS future holds is rough. I have to be frugal, save money, and do everything I can to find outside work to support myself. There have been many times where I wondered if it was all worth it.

Days like today remind me that it is.

-While sitting at my desk upstairs today, James McPherson walked past me on his way down to speak at the Sacred Trust lecture series at the Visitor Center.

-On my afternoon Civil War Soldier program today, I had 100+ visitors. It was an awesome program. The visitors were great, very interested, very responsive, and I had a blast. I wrapped up by reading letters from two soldiers killed on July 3, 1863 at Gettysburg. One was Union and one was Confederate. Each was a letter reminding their families that their deaths were simply a result of them doing their duty, and that their families should not give up or fall into despair, but continue on with the work they were leaving unfinished. One letter was written by a soldier from Mississippi, and the other from Pennsylvania. Yet, they each said the same exact thing: that the soldier was proud to do his duty for his country. It was, as some rangers like to say, an awesome "interpretive moment."

-This morning while working the Visitor Center lobby, I talked to a nine year old boy wearing a Union hat who was absolutely psyched to be at Gettysburg for the first time. Seeing how excited he was reminded me of how awesome it was to be a kid and drive past the Reynolds monument on Route 30, knowing that after a long car ride I had finally arrived at Gettysburg once again.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. What other job would afford someone like me these opportunities?

The answer is none. I work for and with some great people here at Gettysburg, and being here has reminded me, once again, how fortunate I am to have this opportunity to work for the National Park Service as a park ranger at some of our nation's most hallowed historical sites.

Oh, and I almost forgot. What other job would give someone the opportunity to live in a historic farmhouse in the middle of the Gettysburg battlefield so that every evening he could walk out his front door, take a short hike, and take pictures like these (all from the last two evenings)?

The answer?  Only the greatest job in the world.

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