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Seeing History: Old and New

June 27, 2022

We have arrived in Hancock, Maryland. Though the rain really didn’t fall on us today, the towpath had received rain over night. So, most of the day, we road on a wet towpath. Our bike, and us, were covered in mud by the time we got to the hotel.

Part of the trip was taking a detour to see the battlefield of Antietam, the bloodiest day in the Civil War. Janet and I had seen the battlefield four years ago when we came out this way for the tandem rally. Even so, it was good to see it again, and realize the sacrifice men made that we could have the freedom we do today. Antietam was the first major victory by the Union in the Civil War—until then a war about the rights of states compared to the rights of the nation. It was a few days after the battle, that President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, making the war about slavery. This kept the South from getting help from Britain. If Britain would have joined the war, the United States might have had Canada on the north and the British commonwealth of the Confederacy to the south. With the South not able to get help from Britain, there was hope for the Union, which eventually won.

Before today, we stayed in Harper’s Ferry, famous for John Brown’s siege on the armory. He hoped that he could start an uprising that slaves would join in to bring them freedom. Instead, he was hung for treason. 18 months later, the Civil War broke out. Harper’s Ferry was a strategic location in the war with the surrounding hills, the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. It was troops moving from here that set up the battle of Antietam.

On Friday, we had arrived in Washington D.C. and learned that Roe v. Wade had been overturned by the Supreme Court. We biked up to the Supreme Court to see the rally. They were completely quiet, until a news camera turned on. We decided it was best to simply see the White House, monuments and get out of town. And, unless we figure out a way to have our differences, and still be civil with each other, our nation may be heading toward another division. In the time I have had to think and reflect on the bike, I have come to realize that we should all spend more time building relationships and understating than building walls and divisions.

Bike time is slow time. Up to today, we have ridden about 400 miles over 36 hours. Janet and I have had time to talk, be silent, discuss our readings and pray together. I hope the next 7 weeks will allow us to see more sights and grow deeper in relationship with each other and with God. And, we continue to meet more amazing people.


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