Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation

Michelle Kent

I jog across the grass and wiggle my bare toes into the soft ground as I slow to a stop. The early-morning dew feels chills my unshod feet as I stand alone in the middle of a damp, grassy field. It occurs to me that this is precisely how the Confederates must have felt as they trekked into the town of Gettysburg in search of some kind souls willing to provide soles for their weathered, unshod feet. The young men were no doubt taxed physically and emotionally from enduring the hardships of the war, as it affected everyone in the nation in one adverse way or another. A pair of chilly bare feet in search of shelter began what is arguably the most hallowed battle ever fought in American history. The denial of the right to satisfy a basic human necessity led many men to their deaths at the hands of their fellow countrymen in a small town. Many of these young men were little more than passionate boys hardly older than myself, fighting to uphold the morals that their parents discussed around the dinner table during their youth. These young boys died for ideals that they could hardly wrap their still-growing minds around, yet they insisted upon not being shown up or turned down by their superiors. They told themselves on the inside to be brave when they were scared for their lives and without the comforts expected at home. The brave young men, fearing for their lives, were just longing for the luxury of a pair of shoes, a desire that afforded them their existence. War is a relentless game. Michelle Kent