Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Traveling through history

I'm a history freak; I admit it freely. I enjoy walking in the footsteps of those who made history. I love standing in a place where history was made. I get goosebumps when I think of the men and women who built our country. Recently, we've been RVing along the Oregon Trail. It always amazes me when we stop at a place like Independence Rock and few travelers even give it a passing thought - much less walk the small distance to actually touch history. Independence rock was a place (large rock) the emigrants wanted to reach by Independence Day. Doing so meant they were likely to pass through the mountains before the snows came, generally assuring them a safe passage, weather wise, to either Oregon, California, or Salt Lake (depending on the destination desired). Independence Rock was a place to celebrate our country's independence, even if the wagon train were a tad early - or a tad late. If they were near their goal date, they often afforded themselves (and their oxen or mules) a day of rest. What a treat that must have been after days on end walking the prarie! They had left their families and comfortable homes and farms behind, they had set out with little knowledge of what was ahead. Their courage and determination lead them and egged them on. They had visited Fort Laramie and resupplied. They had already begun to leave some nonessentials by the wayside. Many had already lost a child, a spouse, or another member of the family or close friend. Accidents along the trail were common. Bad water, illness, wagon, animal and gun mishaps each took a few members of the traveling party to their grave. Yet the members of the wagon train carried on. They buried their dead and moved beyond their grief. Me? I'd have taken a first look at the Rocky Mountains and decided trying to farm in the middle of Indian Country seemed safer than taking a wagon through the mountains! Heck, I doubt I'd have made it to Independence Rock. I have nothing but admiration for those that carried on. I figure it's the least I can do to is to take a little walk to an important place to them, doff my hat, and say "Thanks!"

I encourage all of you to go to the historic & beatiful sight you pass as you zip along a freeway. Stop for a moment, say a Thanks, and pay homage to those that found these beautiful places, or that left their footprints along the way as they made history and built our nation. Go, visit history. Give yourself a chance to be awed. Think what it might have been like to endorse the Declaration of Independence, to die at The Alamo, or walk the Oregon (Mormon or California) Trail!

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