The problem was that the lady who gave the talk just before we sang had us in tears. She is a historian at the Gettysburg battlefield. She said that although the Civil War was terrible and more lives were lost during that conflict than in any other American war, she could still site many examples of heroism and goodness. She quoted a famous man who said that "War makes bad men worse and good men better."
She shared a touching story from the first day of the battle. The wounded and dying were taken to some of the larger houses in the little town. One woman who had a young family and a husband off in the war, suddenly felt the need to go help with the wounded. She left her 12 year old in charge at home, and went to one of the make-shift hospitals. She was sent to help comfort a young drummer boy who lay dying in one of the upper floors. He had been crying out for his mother. This woman did not say anything, but she lovingly held that 13 year old boy in her arms to comfort him. He had been given morphine to ease his suffering. He said, "Mother, I knew you would come. I prayed that you would come. I knew you would not leave me to die alone."
Another story she shared was from the third day. The Southern troops were attacking the Northern Army's flanks up against a rock fence. One "johnny rebel" was hit just below the fence and a young union soldier felt that he needed to jump the fence and carry this man to safety. 50 years later, in 1913, these two men were attending a reunion of the Battle of Gettysburg with thousands of other veterans. They each had told their unusual story yards apart from each other and mentioned that they wished they knew what had happened to the other man. Then they suddenly recognized each other, ran to each other and embraced.
The Battle of Gettysburg was unusual amid the annals of Civil Wars. Usually the wounds of civil war never heal and the unrest rages for generations without end. But, the fighting at Gettysburg effectively ended the Civil War. When President Lincoln prayed that we would bind up the nation's wounds, it came true. It is still for us as the citizens of the United States to uphold this nation of the people, by the people and for the people so that it will never perish from the earth.
(Fortunately, we were able to rally and sing our song without too many tears!)