July 1st-3rd, 1863 America recorded their deadliest battles in history in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. These battles were just a slice of the entire Civil War but were a turning point for the Civil War in favor of the North winning. At De La Salle Institute, the Meteors learn about the civil war through lectures, educational videos, and group discussions.
The eighth Gettysburg trip, hosted by John Brogan, is back! Due to COVID-19 this trip unfortunately wasn’t able to happen last year but was able to resume this year from March 17th-21st. Accompanying the 11 Meteors were teachers Daniel Dowling and Christopher Wood. This trip is taken once a year in order to allow students to visualize how life was in history before us. Knowing this information can help others not repeat gruesome and unfair actions that once happened.
This was the first year that the De La Salle Gettysburg Trip was available to girls. Being previously an all-male school and then integrating into a co-educational institution, was a historic year for the Meteors. Only a small handful of senior students are chosen for this trip. They must be in good academic standing and have proved to their teachers that they are reasonably respectful students that can be trusted to represent their school off campus. Brogan, the coordinator of this trip, was able to receive a grant of $350 from the American Battlefield Trust. His appreciation and passion for history is why he was chosen to help teach students about the historical battles in our country. “My goal is to take students and help them gain a better appreciation for what took place. There is no better way to honor those soldiers than seeing where they fought,” said Brogan. Part of progressing through history is looking back and thanking those who made sacrifices to help us be where we are today.
On day one, when the Meteors arrived in Gettysburg, they went straight to the battlefield. The Gettysburg battle, that lasted three days, was important since it stopped the momentum of the confederate army. Taking the Meteors through the battlefield was Scott Hancock who is a professor of history and African studies at Gettysburg College. “This will provide more opportunity for discussion,” said Hancock. A huge portion of these tours is being able to open discussion for students who want to learn more about history.
The next day, everyone got up early to go see Harpers Ferry where the John Brown Raid took place. This raid is important because it’s considered the spark that started the Civil War. John Brown was an abolitionist and a slave. He orchestrated this raid in order to combat the system of slavery. Guiding the Meteors through this site was Jim Rosebrock who is a historian and battle enthusiast. The Meteors not only saw Mr. Rosebrock on their second day, but their third as well. “If I could do every tour for free I would,” said Rosebrock. Being on tours allows people to feel like they are a part of a bigger picture. There is much that people want to be involved in but haven’t found the inspiration yet. Being able to witness history and hear about people who fought for what they believed in fosters that.
Finally, everyone went to Antietam to see graves of soldiers and leave flowers in honor of their sacrifice and bravery. The Battle of Antietam was another turning point that signified the North being able to win against the confederate army, and President Abraham Lincoln announced his Emancipation Proclamation. This was announcing that all slaves should be free within any state. For this tour Mr. Rosebrock and Mr. Siegel, who is a full-time revolutionary war battlefield guide, historian, and author, toured everyone around. “My experiences as an Army officer, now retired, have given me a fascination for the military aspects of the terrain on the battlefield of Antietam,” said Rosebrock.
Today, monuments all over the south are still standing honoring the confederate leaders who fought in the civil war. Even though the confederacy lost, these monuments stand to show a bigger picture of institutionalized racism that many people don’t want to leave their southern homes. Going on this Gettysburg trip helped our Lasallian students expand their minds on racism and how we can stop it. The three sites that were visited are turning points in the Civil War that were in favor of ending slavery, racial suppression, and institutionalized racism. Even though these historians, professors, and tour guides showed everyone what happened during these battles, this was also an opportunity to spread awareness of not repeating history and making mistakes that can affect people’s lives.