A word from Katie Carroll

Attorney Kathleen Carroll writes in response to “Every man did his whole duty”:

I have lived in Gettysburg for 8 years and run on the battlefield very often. As a Civil War reenactor, I know the story of the 1st Minnesota well and I think of those valiant soldiers every time I pass the 1st Minnesota monument, giving proof to the saying “gone but not forgotten.”

I salute them every time I pass and was pleased to see you recognize their supreme sacrifice — casualties exceeded 80 percent — at Power Line. “Not Forgotten” can also be applied to the citizens of Gettysburg this Memorial Day. I was honored to be part of a small “host group” as our town welcomed more than a dozen wounded veterans from Walter Reed Hospital. They screened the film “Fields of Freedom” made especially for visitors and recounting “Pickett’s Charge” (“Longstreet’s Assault for the purists”) — I worried a bit as there are many soldiers blown up in the film and I was afraid it might be a bit too close to home for the survivors of IEDs.

They didn’t seem to mind. We treated our visitors to lunch and they were the guests of honor at our parade. I can’t tell you how thrilling it was to see the response of everyone waiting for the parade as our bus rolled down the main street bearing a banner on the front identifying the occupants. Everyone stood and cheered. Most touching was the response of the Vietnam veterans made known by their hats — old boonies or baseball caps proudly proclaiming “Vietnam Vet.” Most leaped to attention and saluted. Many also visited with our guests on the reviewing stand, shook hands and said “thank you.”

There were gifts for our guests and everyone wanted to meet them. One amazed wounded warrior told me “they asked us if we wanted to take a bus tour of Gettysburg — no one said anything about all this!” Of course, we made them suffer through all the speeches in the Memorial Day service at the National Cemetery, but no one complained (at least that I could hear). The wounded veterans and their families were profoundly grateful for the support and attention and we were confronted with our wounded service members in the flesh whose missing limbs, wheelchairs, crutches, angry scars and pins and rods protruding from legs are clear evidence that freedom is not free.

As a former Army officer and the stepmother of an Infantry officer currently serving in Iraq, I can’t think of a better way to have spent Memorial Day and I look forward to hosting another group next year and the next and the next until all our soldiers are home.

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