I have deeply appreciated the Gettysburg Times and Deb Thomas for affording monthly space to report for the Civil War Roundtable of Gettysburg. I’m still new to the office of president and, for that matter, relatively new to Gettysburg, myself, having retired here in June of 2018. When the Roundtable Board proposed we be intentional about a presence in the Times, I said I’d be happy to fold that into my responsibilities, and was extremely gratified when Deb offered regular column space to run on the third Saturday of every month. As it happens, this third Saturday of Nov. 16, is my birthday—number 69. And with Thanksgiving just a week or so away, I hope you’ll excuse the indulgence of using the occasion to give thanks for living in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. There’s no place I’d rather be.
My wife and I are transplants from the midwest, both of us having served Methodist churches across Missouri and Nebraska. Borrowing imagery from the Civil War, my 44 years in the Lord’s army began in congregations the size of a shot-up company; surviving that, I was promoted to what amounted to regimental command; the last half of my career was spent in churches with enough members to fill a Gettysburg brigade. I loved it. I’d been a history major in college and congregants would rag me sometimes about the many historical reference in my sermons, Civil War illustrations figuring prominently. But I figured there was a lot of similarity between my job and that of a colonel in 1863, leading volunteer troops, albeit without the option of shooting shirkers.