Cassi Creek: Today is the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg. I saw the battlefield during a relatively cool and damp period in May. The battle took place in far less enjoyable weather. The uniforms of the day were made of wool, hot and heavy in the best of conditions in July. Factor in the summer heat and humidity, the heavy exertions consistent with troop movements, building barricades, laying artillery, and the actual fighting. One can begin to understand the misery that settled in upon the combatants before shots were traded. Fighting a Civil War battle was a study in endurance and tenacity. The weak and sick all too often fell out before or just as the battles were engaged.
There will be thousands of re-enactors at Gettysburg this week. Among other things, they are determined to keep the memory of the men who fought there alive and accurately recalled by younger generations.
They will wear the hot wool uniforms, live in the canvas tents, and eat the monotonous and unhealthy food that mirrors what the troops ate those long years previous to today. They celebrated the men of both sides of the conflict. They consider their contribution of time and effort to be a privilege.
They are not there alone. Battlefields are haunted, haunting places. If ghosts exist, those are the first places to find them. It is difficult to walk battlefields and not see what took place as units moved against each other into the face of rifle and cannon fire. There are places where the smell of gunpowder will never entirely fade away. Even damage ears can hear the deafening thunder of cannon, the sharp crack of shells exploding, the rattling hail of rifle fire, and the sounds of suffering those weapons inflict.
19 firefighters killed in Arizona blaze; 'Our entire crew was lost'
By Holly Yan, CNN
July 1, 2013 -- Updated 1434 GMT (2234 HKT)
“(CNN) -- They were part of an elite squad who confronted wildfires up close, setting up barriers to stop the spreading destruction.
But the inferno blazing across central Arizona proved too much, even for the shelters the 19 firefighters carried as a last-ditch survival tool.
The firefighters were killed Sunday while fighting the Yarnell Hill fire, northwest of Phoenix. It was the deadliest day for firefighters . And it is the deadliest wildland fire since 1933, according to a list from the U.S. National Wildfire Coordinating Group…”
This is a horrible tragedy that will affect the entire fire-fighting community, nationwide. These teams and other firefighters routinely deploy from state to state as the demands of active fire season call for shared manpower. Wild fires are things of horror on a scale equal to the worst of other weather phenomena. They occur naturally, destroy everything in their path, and are all too often deadly. The best of protective equipment is sometimes of little or no benefit. Last-ditch protection is just that, a gamble that technology can alter reality. This time, in this place, the technology wasn’t up to the task. Heroes died trying to save the lives and property of others.