I had my first encounter with Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain when I was 8 or 9 years old. It was my first visit to Gettysburg, and I don't think I was very impressed. But something must have clicked that day, because I trace my love for history back to that moment in time.
The summer that I was 16 my mother and I went on another excursion to Gettysburg. With the knowledge that I had gained in the intervening years I was better able to appreciate the "hallowed ground" that is the battlefield. But I also found myself thinking about the events of July 2, 1863. Were the events of that day actually more important to the outcome of the battle than even Pickett's Charge? Heresy, I know, but once the thought took root I couldn't dislodge it.
There was never any mention of Chamberlain and his heroism at Little Round Top in any of the textbooks we used in high school. Without a source for additional information I let my interest wane.
Until Ken Burns' landmark television production The Civil War. I was in college by that time, and my sister talked me into watching it. I was entranced from the very beginning, but it really felt like the bottom fell out of my world when Chamberlain made his appearance.
Those of you who don't know too much about him may be wondering why Chamberlain? What was so great about this man to make him worthy of such admiration and respect?
Chamberlain was the ideal citizen soldier. A man of honour and dignity. An eloquent speaker and a first-rate educator. A loving husband and father. A hero in the truest sense of the word.
My mother once commented on the fact that I appear to be more than half in love with a man who died in 1914. And just what exactly is wrong with that?
As for me personally, I am a native of New Jersey and I've lived in Florida for nearly 14 years. I graduated from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) in 1991. I'm a voracious reader, a sports nut, a bit of a wrench-head, and a wannabe physical therapist.
P.J. says "Check it out!"
You are listening to Harry's Wondrous World
Composed by John Williams