Ripping our nation apart, the Civil War's brief, bloody visit to Sumter, South Carolina, opened fire at Dingle's Mill southwest of the city. Today the field is little more than an opening beneath tall power lines, but boasts a small information display and two sets of gravestones on opposite ends of the public area.
The displays tell a story of opposing armies circling each other before engaging in a protracted fight. The narratives explain how the battle transpired and its impact on the area. The preservation society chained off the road leading deeper into the forest, so I don't know what's back there.
As I grow older, I often pause and ponder when I see birth and death years, like you find on tombstones and memorial plates. Their lives become more real to me as I walk deeper into my own. I wonder what struggles we shared and, increasingly, how did they feel at the end of their lives? Did they feel satisfied? Unsatisfied? Did they regret too much or let their pasts go and find contentment?
Did the men who died on that field feel satisfied with their choices as they bled out on that sandy midland soil? Would they be proud they fought for their homeland, or look back and think better of the fight? As not all Southernors fought for slavery, would he find his struggle noble? Would he wish he had done things differently?
Historical events grow less important to me as much as wondering what led normal men and women to extraordinary acts in otherwise common lives. In the end, we're all people doing the best we can with the circumstances we face which, unsurprisingly, seem more and more common regardless of the age in which we live.