Sunday, April 18, 2010

Vicksburg was surrendered on July 4, 1863 after 47 days under siege. The Vicksburg National Military Park was an incredible experience for many reasons. The graves lined up reminded me of Arlington; the Illinois monument you will see below had a wall of those who died, reminding me of not only Dachau but most recently, the genocide wall in Kigali, Rwanda. When will we learn??

This is a restoration of the USS Cairo, named after Cairo, Illinois. The Union needed to get control of the Mississippi and take control from the Confederates. The ironclad USS Cairo was sunk in 12 minutes in the Yazoo River which runs into the Mississippi. No one was lost in the sinking but this was the first recorded "torpedo" made of glass and gunpowder to sink a ship. The USS Cairo had 13 cannons and also had the youngest soldier aboard, a 14 year old kid last named Yost. 1/3 of the soldiers aboard were foreigners and 1/3 came from Illinois, in the Cairo area.

There are 47 steps leading up to the Illinois Monument, one for each day of the seige. And there are three inscriptions at the top from leading Illinois forefathers: Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant and Governor Gates. This black area which you cannot read is the wall of those who gave their lives for their country from Illinois.

And this is the Michigan Monument. Each monument commemorates a state, an infantry group, a battalion and areas of the park commemorated a specific battle...the most moving to me was Union Trench.

A quote from Ulysses S. Grant on the Illinois Monument.

I didn't realize that Vicksburg was amidst the rolling hills. Graves and monuments are found in every crevasse in this park. I left to go check out the town of Vicksburg and found I was thinking of our men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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