Wednesday, February 3

Day Trip: Hopewell, Va.; City Point National Park

I really love to travel. I always have and I always will. There's just something about a great adventure. Obviously, my love of adventures comes in handy when it comes to going on story gathering trips. Usually my trips consist of a lot of time in a car and lots of back roads and Hampton Inns.

On a recent trip to Virginia, however, I found myself with a few hours before an appointment in the very charming and historical city of Hopewell 25 miles south of Richmond. Hopewell is home to City Point, a National Park and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s headquarters and the Petersburg National Battlefield.
 I will be the first to admit that I am no Civil War history buff, but felt the urge to stop anyway. I am so glad I did!

Grant's headquarters are a National Park, so I was able to tour the grounds and the house with the aide of a Park Ranger. I was the only visitor on a dreary November day, and it seemed like the entire area was heavy. Heavy is the best word I can use to describe it.
I struck up a lovely conversation with the Park Ranger and he gave me a full tour of the Grants house, including some of the exhibits that were in the process of being restored. I was amazed at how small everything in the house was. I had to duck to clear the doorways.
 
One thing I did notice throughout the main house was the wallpaper. It's been on these walls for centuries and was still gorgeous.
 While we were walking up a set of somewhat rickety stairs, and my steel-toed boots made loud thuds, he said something that I don't think I will ever forget.

"These old places are full of stories, they will tell you many things, and you only have to listen."

Suddenly, the tour took on a new meaning; walking the grounds changed my point of view a bit. As our country struggles today, not unlike it did during Grant's time on t shores of this Virginia river, I couldn't help but be grateful for all the men, Union and Confederate, that helped bring us to this point.

We've got a long way to go, but we must not forget the sacrifices of these men (and their families) to make sure that America didn't fracture then, and won't fracture now. We might all have opposing views, but this country was built on debate, differences and acceptance. 

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