Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Why I do the things I do…

I was talking with a friend the other day, and he asked why I am working towards being a Licensed Battlefield Guide. “Is the money that good?” He asked.  I paused and thought for a few seconds and had an answer.

The sheer joy of learning is why I’m doing this.

I thought about all the things I had to memorize going through paramedic school that didn’t interest me a whit, and I realized that if I had that kind of focus and drive on a subject I cared about the results would be dramatic. 

I go to Gettysburg several times a year, and am never bored.  I always manage to find something new to see or learn about.  I don’t stick to the conventional there (or at any battlefield I visit).  I try to get off the trails and paths and see things from a different perspective.  I know more about the battle than a lot of people out there, but not nearly as much as others. 

How could I improve my knowledge on this subject?

Reenacting?  Not for me…I was in the military for four years and remember why I got out.  Plus when you have to work to stay “in character” it seems like you are working too hard to enjoy what you’re there for.

Reading?  I’ve always been a voracious reader, but how would I be able to measure my progress?

Write a novel?  Good Lord no!!!  There are much better authors out there than I could ever hope to be who have already written a ton of books on Gettysburg and the Civil War as a whole.  And if I couldn’t add anything substantial to the conversation, I probably shouldn’t try to get in on it.

Then I found out about the LBG test.  That is a way I could measure my knowledge.  They hit on so many topics on the battle that you have to have a deep understanding of the battle to even consider taking the test.

I set the goal for myself to be able to pass the written test.  If I can pass the written test, then I will be satisfied.  I know going into this that they only create a very few LBGs every two years, and that achieving that may be beyond what I am capable of. 

On another track...

I have an affinity for the Civil War.  I’m not sure what the draw or attraction to it is.  My family wasn’t in the US when the war was waged, so I have no direct ties.  

There is closeness in that several battlefields are within a 4-6 hour drive from my house, but the same argument can be made about the French and Indian War and The Revolution.  

There is something truly special about the Civil War.  It was the first war to be widely photographed.  It was a war of innovation (both strategically and with weaponry).  In a sense it was the first "modern" war.It forever changed so many things; how we perceive ourselves as a nation; the face of both the North American continent and the world.  It was a war initially fought because of constitutional interpretation, that later became identified with a higher meaning.

I don’t profess to have this great knowledge of history, or even the Civil War.  I don’t have a degree of any type.  I have the knowledge I’ve gained through self directed research, and opinions that I have formed based on my interpretation of the facts as I learn them.  I hope to share some of them here as I add more posts.

Next week's post will include pictures (from where, I haven't decided  yet).

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