WOW - hard to type 2015 as I don't know how 2014 flew by so fast.....seems like I just got used to typing that and here we are in another year. We've been back in Virginia for a full week (minus a few hours) and feel like we are right back in the saddle with our responsibilities and with this area. It has been a typical week with rain, rain, and more rain. In fact, it rained 3 days this past week! So, when I decided to finally get up about 8:30 on Saturday morning and asked Elder Ashton what he had planned for the day, and he responded that he kind of wanted to go exploring, I can only say I was less than enthusiastic.....not about the exploring but about doing it in the rain! But my lack of enthusiasm didn't dampen his spirits at all and the weather report indicated maybe the rain would clear up by afternoon so I got ready and we left the apartment about 10:00 a.m. to explore Yorktown.
As we drove across the bridge that spans the bay all I could see was gray skies, gray choppy water, and gray raindrops. I was thinking that I really needed to see some sunshine.....or at least for the gray raindrops to stop!
Driving into town, with raindrops still falling, we came to this wall with a mural depicting battles fought there. (Please disregard the speed limit sign - you can go as fast as you want ;-) )
We drove around the historic part of town a bit and came across this church that is still used for services. - I believe it was a Methodist Church.
Note the old wall surrounding the church....we saw several like that around different properties.
From there we went to the Battlefield Museum/Visitor's Center. The area is overseen by the National Park Service so we pulled out our "old people" National Park passes and got in for free!
I decided I didn't pay close enough attention in my U.S. History class OR my brain has forgotten a lot of what I learned. While walking through the museum and reading the placards (it takes me about 1/3 the time to read all the placards that it takes Elder Ashton to read the same placards and contemplate the impact of each one) I learned that this was the last formal fighting that took place in the Revolutionary war and although the British remained in New York for another couple of years and the war was officially over in 1783 when the treaty of Paris was signed. I was also surprised to learn (or be reminded) that although the colonies declared independence in 1776, this final formal battle took place in Yorktown in 1781......they had been fighting for 5 years! I started to think about how difficult that must have been and how many men lost their lives fighting for our independence.
When I came around the corner in the museum and saw the sign on this wooden hammock, it made me laugh......I wondered if there had been visitors that had tried it out, like my Ashton boys would have done many years ago?
The cannons and the implements they had to carry with them to prepare and shoot the cannon were interesting to me.
We watched a short movie there in the museum that depicted the battle....it was interesting to me how they waged battle in the 1700's...both sides marched toward each other in a solid line and the commander would yell "Fire". I don't know how anyone survived as it appeared they were firing at each other at almost point blank range! I can't imagine the motions of those fighting.
I learned that there was a battle in the bay and that battle was won by the French Navy. When that happened, Washington saw that as an opportunity and started a 400+ mile march with the Continental Army (about 5000 men). The British were pretty well entrenched in Yorktown, but when the Continental Army arrived, they and the French came up with a plan to push to the center of Yorktown. The movie showed how the soldiers had to dig trenches and get the cannons and mortars in place to fight......and they fought with their hearts!
A line of cannons and mortars behind earthworks where they fought the British. There were two lines of these and when the Americans and French finally took the last part of the second line the British retreated and tried to make it across the bay to Goucester, but a big storm came up and they were unable to go. At that point in time General Cornwallis decided it was time to work out terms of surrender. As I heard the part of the story where the big storm came up, I immediately thought that Heavenly Father was very involved in creating this nation of freedom!!!
Terms of surrender were worked out at the Moore House as outlined by this display from the museum.
Artifacts from the area of the Moore House.
We left the museum and took the driving tour around the battlefield. As we drove up to the Moore House to see where the terms of surrender were worked out, the grass in front of the house had a small herd of deer grazing there. They were pretty tame and didn't seem the least bit bothered when we climbed out of the truck and took the pictures.
A "selfie" of Elder Ashton and I in front of the Moore House where the terms of surrender were worked out........who are these two old people looking through their bifocles?
The table in the parlor in the Moore House where they worked out the terms of surrender.
Military hats and swords on the table in the parlor in the Moore House. The hat with gold trim with the white ribbon was the kind worn by the French commander.
Another sword and hat resting on a chair in the parlor.
The "pantry" in the Moore House....I wonder how many of those bottles of liquor were consumed while working out the terms of surrender?
One of the first places we stopped on the driving tour was a National Cemetery. The rain had stopped and the air was brisk and quiet.....we were the only ones there. I wish I could digitize and send to all of you the feelings that washed over me as we walked through that cemetery.....it was so peaceful and I felt like I was walking on sacred ground. There are 1596 graves in the cemetery - mostly from the Civil War period. What surprised me were the number of headstones that did not have a name on them.
As I walked the cemetery and noticed the large number of graves that said, "unknown U.S. soldier", "Two Unknown U.S. Soldiers", "Three Unknown U.S. Soldiers" I started to feel tears fill my eyes and a lump form in my throat as I felt gratitude for all the men and women who have given of their time, their talents, and even their lives to create and protect the freedom of this nation. Whether they fought in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, The Spanish American War, WWI, WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, Dessert Storm, Afghanistan, or somewhere else, I believe each of us who enjoy living in this country owe them a great debt of gratitude. I thought about the families of all those "unknowns" and how difficult it must have been for them when their loved one did not come home. Then I thought of how blessed I am to live in this country where the gospel was restored and where I have the freedom to come to Virginia to share the good news about the Savior with others. Needless to say, I was pretty emotional for most of the rest of the day! I AM SO GLAD ELDER ASHTON DIDN'T LET MY LACK OF ENTHUSIASM KEEP US HOME. I NEEDED THIS REMINDER OF HOW GREATLY BLESSED I AM!
The flagpole in the National Cemetery - with flags from the different services (Marines, Air Force, Navy, Army, and Coast Guard) along with the American Flag. A pretty sight!
After the revolutionary war victory at Yorktown, the Continental Congress approved the construction of this victory tower. However, it was not completed until almost 100 years later. It is 96 feet tall and sits next to the bay.
A few odds and ends - thoughts to share with you.
This tree is at the entrance to our apartment complex. As you can see, most of the roots lay on top of the ground. Every time we drive past this- going and coming- I can't help but wonder how that tree would fare in one of our Monsoon wind storms? -- I'm thinking it would probably be laying across the driveway!
I thought this street with the decorated light posts and the colonial style houses looked quite quaint - except for the guy walking with the cell phone up to his ear, of course ;-)
As we were leaving Yorktown to head back to our apartment, we saw several interesting things.
This restored windmill. For many years, a working windmill operated the grist mill that supplied flower for the inhabitants of this area.
A special street sign that instantly made me think of my daughter-in-law and her family. I wonder if some of her roots are back here in Virginia?
We were driving along and I looked out the window to see a large stand of bamboo! I thought it would be much too cold back here for bamboo to grow, but then again, it was 72 degrees here today and Thursday is predicted to have a high of 29 degrees. The locals keep telling us if we don't like the weather we should wait a few minutes because it will change. :)