In July of 2001 a member of the J.L. Chamberlain discussion list made the "pilgrimage" to Brunswick to attend Chamberlain Days 2001. Lucky for me, Bobby has become a good friend, so he willingly shared some photographs and his own writings on the experience. Yes, I was jealous of his good fortune in going! :)
Bobby G. and the J.L. Chamberlain Museum, Brunswick, Maine
Even if you know absolutely nothing about the American Civil War, one trip to Gettysburg and you are hooked.
That's what happened to me when in 1999, I went home to Chicago and took a "road" trip with Mom and Dad. That's something I haven't done in 30 years.
On a guided bus tour, with a fabulous story-telling guide, we came to what is, unknown to me, a woody and rocky hill called "Little Round Top". After hearing the guide tell the story, my dad and I got off the bus, and I had the opportunity to walk around this little hill. I could feel the action happening all around me. I mentioned to Dad that they guy who led these men in this scrap must have been quite a guy.
Dad and I walked around some more, and he was telling me about this battle. I didn't want to get back on the bus; I just wanted to stay there. This was the first time I actually felt the past come alive around me, and I was 41 at the time.
The name Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain kept popping up, or maybe it was just starting to register in my brain. I wanted to learn more about this battle on Little Round Top and this Colonel from Maine. I was always a fan of the underdog and doing the impossible... i.e. The Alamo, Rorke's Drift, the Chicago Cubs...
The whole three day story of Gettysburg is quite fascinating. I never read any books, saw "THE" movie, or watched Ken Burns' documentary.
I came home, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and the Civil War were in my system! I had to learn more! And Chamberlain was exactly as I thought he would be, even before I read a sentence on him.
He was the guy next door who was bursting at the seams to express himself. The American Civil War was the key that opened the door to the inside of an extraordinary man. He let common sense and his "in control" conscience guide him. Courage is usually gained by knowing you are doing the "right" thing. His success was achieved by having faith. Faith in the United States, and faith in God.
To me, DAD is the finest role model I have. The best there is. Chamberlain is an excellent example of a role model because he showed up for work each day... the work of LIFE. Living it to the fullest, and with meaning.
Well, here it is two years later and Joshua Chamberlain is still very much admired by me. I know he will be for a long time. I am also glad to see his popularity growing and growing... not just admired by Civil War historians and "buffs", but by young and old, scholars and "greenies"! And the amount of woman admirers is astounding.
"Chamberlain Days" in Brunswick, Maine is a wonderful tribute to him. I hope they always continue to have the event.
Bobby Grenier 2001
You are listening to Battle Hymn Of The Republic