The Witness Tree at Gettysburg: Mr. D’Acosta’s Class Visits Gettysburg

by Sara Burkhart, class of 2018

I really enjoyed the U. S. History trip to Gettysburg led by Mr. D’Acosta on October 28 because it allowed me to understand a Civil War battle in detail.  Visiting the battlefield and cemetery was an overall wonderful experience that affected me greatly.  I honestly thought before the trip that I wouldn’t enjoy it because I’m not as passionate about history as I am with other subjects and was worried it would be boring.

However, I loved the people I was with and the actor who portrayed President Lincoln, the reenactor who dressed as a Union soldier and showed us the equipment used by soldiers during the Civil War, and our licensed battlefield guide each pushed me to a much deeper understanding of the Civil War in general and the Battle of Gettysburg in particular.

One of the experiences that most affected me was the cemetery tour.  In a way, I felt guilt and shame when I stepped near graves because I felt I was dishonoring the people lost in battle who were buried beneath me.  This experience led me to respect all of the casualties.

It was also upsetting to know family members fought against each other in the war because I can’t imaging fighting against my relatives.  This caused me to feel empathy and sympathy.  It was an emotional part of the trip because thousands of people died in the Civil War.  If I hadn’t visited the cemetery, then I never would have grasped the true loss families faced at the time and how much they suffered.

Another powerful experience was touching the last living tree from the battle.  Many people can view this amazing witness and not realize its symbolic meaning.  However, for me, touching a tree that was present during the battle was thrilling.  It gave me a direct connection to the battle.  It is unbelievable to actually see and touch a tree that is so old.  All my friends and I took the opportunity to touch that tree and be tied by it to the bloodiest battle ever to take place in America.


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