Gettysburg: Selfless Sacrifice and Selfie Sticks

In Sights, USA by Nick7 Comments

It’s Independence Day and that means one thing—gorging on grilled sausage, cheeseburgers and cheap American Belgian beer. But it’s also a time to look back and reflect on the sacrifices of generations before us, from the Revolution to Afghanistan, and appreciate their efforts to win and safeguard our independence and freedom.

It’s also a time to get shitfaced and post selfies on Facebook of you wearing a red, white and blue t-shirt that you’ll stuff in your closet again until next year.

I can remember visiting national monuments as a kid and being in awe. Absorbed as I was in video games, the history and gravity of these places still meant something.

Did You Know?
Many mannequins in the Gettysburg museum are former park attendants who strayed too far from marked roadways.

But visiting Gettysburg recently, all I saw was an endless horde of smart-phone zombies. It was like the Union and Confederate soldiers had risen from their graves, reanimated by Google and Apple to endlessly haunt the battlefield.

Nobody is capable of enjoying a trip, a meal, or company with their friends unless they have the sweet, soothing safety net of Facebook or Tinder or Instagram. There is never time for a silent moment to reflect on the past or the present because silence = awkward, and discomfort can only be allayed by burying your face in a screen.

Sheeple of Gettysburg

Trying to read plaques or line up shots is almost impossible, because of mindless daywalkers shambling to and fro across the roads and pathways, drawn here and there by the call of their tour guides like a shepherd tending to his flock.

Eternal Light Monument

The guides, by the way, are phenomenal people. Never before have you see guys so excited to do exactly what they love, even if 95% of their customers are zoned out and drooling on a 150-year-old cannon.

I mean, these guys are working the crowd like a Wild West snake oil salesman.

Even if you didn’t give a shit about Gettysburg or America or war, you’re almost forced to listen. Voice booming like Lincoln giving the Gettysburg Address. Details about commanding officers so intricate, you’d think they were former lovers. Battlefield descriptions so intense, you’d wonder if they were actually there.

For God’s sake men, Tinder can wait! The rebs are upon us!General Joseph 'Fighting Joe' Hooker

But Gettysburg now is almost as good today for people-watching as it is for monument-trekking.

Take a step back into the treeline at the North Carolina monument, and survey the busloads of tourists ambling up to the statues. Observe as they unsheathe¬†their standard-issue selfie sticks, take aim at the statue, and fire off a quick staccato burst of photographs with a gaggle of friends, mouths agape—the caption later on Facebook probably reads “LOL still at Gay-ttysburg! GAG me!”

Should Have Stayed Home

The punishment for texting in the Confederate army was a good flogging

No one can live in the moment without inserting themselves directly into that moment, and nothing counts if it isn’t recorded, properly filtered, and archived on Facebook. It’s possible, dare I say better, to passively enjoy certain things without attention-whoring.

I’m reminded of the girl who took selfies at Auschwitz, or the other girl who took selfies in front of her grandmother’s casket.

Guess what? You’re not that interesting. You’re not more interesting than Gettysburg, you’re not more important than grandma’s funeral, and nobody thinks it’s cute that you carry a portable speaker around with you because your tour guide is a “boring, creepy old man.”

Do me and everyone else a favor and stay on the bus, stay in the hotel, or stay home.


  1. Teri

    Well said, Nick! Hope the selfie enthusiast take time to appreciate the moment.

  2. Guy

    And a Happy Independence Day to you! Missed you at Di Pasquale’s so I skipped the Panettone Bread Pudding!

    1. Author

      DiPasquale’s is a gift to the Baltimore community, and will also be appearing soon in a blog post. Find out if they deliver to Vietnam, please.

  3. Guy

    Oh, Check out your Aunt Jen’s latest entry on Facebook!! hahaha.

  4. Roger Bandy

    That was one of the reasons Lee couldn’t take Little Rountop, he couldn’t get his duckface to look right next to the backdrop of Devils Den.

    1. Author

      Yes and it’s sad that the history books leave this fact out. Even today, commanders from World War II to Desert Storm have made the same grave error, with countless lives lost. When will we learn from the past?

Leave a Comment