The Americans take pride and make great effort in understanding, preserving and exhibiting
their heritage and history, not only in their museums, but also in maintaining their past by
repairing, restoring or reconstructing their churches, town halls, residents of presidents,
governors, mayors or any other structure of historical significance.
Such is the case with the historical district of Colonial Williamsburg, in the city of
Williamsburg, which we dropped by after crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Not only
the ancient buildings, original or otherwise, in an entire village of 175 acres were
maintained, even the people dressed up in costumes, uniforms or attires of their respective
stations, professions or trades, to give the visitors a realistic glimpse of life in the 18
centuries. The artifacts, pottery, dresses, toys, utensils, weapons, cookware and other goods
that were displayed for sale in quaint little shops were from or were replicas of the 1700s.
The winding and narrow road that went through the Shenandoah (Mountain) National Park was 105
miles. We spent two nights at a town at the 41 mile stone, known as Skylands, so named because
the Hawksbill Peak, the highest point of the mountain (4051 feet) was just 2 miles away, and the
peak appeared to reach the sky (from this land). By the way, I called the Shenandoah as
Shenantiga, not dua. My son said the word was pronounced as -doa, not dua. So the mountain
is now known as Shenandoa-selamat to our family.
I cannot tell you anything more about the Shenandoah other than that it was a jungle where the
temperature was 5 degrees F at night. And this was autumn, not winter. It was a place to be away
from the hustle and bustle, a place for solitude, for contemplation, meditation, and of course
for hiking. There was no Internet or telephone connection, the (only) TV reception was not
particularly good, and the radio was cracking rather than broadcasting most of the time. As
far as I was concerned, there was also no facility to cook noodles at 2 am.
The Americans did not keep records that glorified their past only, but also events and scenes
that caused untold sufferings, such as the shameful records of slavery that agonised all men
of conscience. Slavery was a pivotal tragedy that led to bloodshed and death by the thousands
in the American Civil War that lasted four years.
Harpers Ferry, the last town we visited before we headed home, was one of those places that
registered the agony of men who struggled to free the slaves and failed. Men such as John
Brown were condemned or hanged for trying to break the shackle of slavery, or for raiding the
armory for weapons. We spent the whole morning touring and listening to park rangers
explaining the high points of the flood prone town, which was situated at the confluence of
two major rivers, the Susquehanna and Potomac. The power of the water of these rivers were
harnessed to run the many plants that manufactured rifles that were kept at one of the biggest
and most important armories in the US at that time.
Of the 320 or so major and bloodiest battles fought during the American Civil War, 130 of them
took place in the state of Virginia. Virginia was a major battleground because the capitals of
the north (Washington for the Union) and the south (Richmond for the Confederate) were very
close to each other.