Gettysburg Battlefield PA

There is probably no other town in the USA whose name is better known for the events that took place within it.

The Civil War battle at Gettysburg was the turning point of the war, and claimed more American lives than have been lost in all other battles America has fought before or since. Although, interestingly, more soldiers died from disease in the Civil War than in the battles, such was the prevalence of typhus, typhoid, smallpox and measles in the camps the soldiers lived in. Estimates I have seen suggest around 250,000 died fighting and twice that from disease.

Walmart guns and toys I stopped off in Walmart in Gettysburg, and was interested to see the guns section next to the childrens section in the store. Over my time in America I have learnt that for many Americans guns are integral to the American way of life. However, for many they are not, another issue that contributes to the polarisation of society that probably has its roots back in the Civil War. More people in the USA have died from guns since 1968 than have died in all the wars the US has fought in, including the civil war and those who died of disease. On my trip, it was pretty much a daily event to read or hear about a mass shooting or a policeman shooting someone.

Nic Oatridge Gettysburg PA Apart from the battle, Gettysburg is famous for a brief speech made by Abraham Lincoln there in 1863, several months after the battle. It begins

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

It is interesting how important the power of words are in the USA. Perhaps it has its roots in the nature of the US Constitution, or the rhetoric that fired the War of Independence. Wherver you go there are quotes carved in stone or extensive, but useful, commentary on signs at famous locations or in museums. Nowhere more so than in my next destination.

Next stop: Washington DC.