The Battle of Antietam, fought on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, and Antietam Creek, was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on Northern soil. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with about 23,000 casualties.
My youngest son and I traveled about 90 minutes to Antietam for a camping trip with his Cub Scout troop. I walked the grounds and felt an eerie peace. The grounds were hollowed, respected, and sacred. Evidence of the war was still scattered across the huge battlefield. My son walked with me over the grounds asking a variety of questions, seemingly relevant to the aura of the area. We later reached the campgrounds the other scouts were running around having a blast, learning and experiencing the joys of camping. The campfire was started, games were played, and some even went deer hunting (no guns, of coarse!). It rained heavily that night and into the morning. Sun up...sun down on the same hollowed grounds.
The morning came and we were awakened by obnoxiously loud black crows in the trees. The ground was soaked from the rain. Yet the boys didn't seem to care. In fact, they only seemed to care about...bacon. There were packs of bacon ready to be cooked on the wooden bench. The campfire was stirred back up to a beautiful gold and the first wave of bacon was put on. You could smell it all over the campsite. And the boys were dripping with anticipation, not for the upcoming hike, not for the comraderie of the troop, but for the bacon! I know how my son loves it as I watched him hover around the hot fire.
Boys, what about the hike?
But what about the bacon?
Do you realize the importance of these grounds?
Do you realize the importance of the bacon?
The 23,000 who died? I can eat 23,000 pieces of bacon right now...
In the midst of the history, the sacred, and the lessons, I was reminded that boys will still be boys. Yes, they understood the importance of where we were and the outcomes. They also understood the importance of having a healthy breakfast to start the day. I watched them take off onto the battlefield yelling, "Charge!!!" Others screamed out, "Union!!!!", as parents unable to chase after them watched in amazement and childhood awe. My seven year old is going to be and act like a seven year old. And why should I change that? In a few years he is going to have so many different challenges thrown at him that I would be in error for not letting him enjoy this time...this age. Yes, I will set boundaries...and yes, he will try to climb over them.
History was made September 17, 1862; my son will too make history. I just don't need to rush it. I'm still learning...I have NOS...