My great-grandmother, Amelia, was born in 1854 and emigrated from Crewkerne, England, a grimy factory town. It took Amelia’s father three years to earn passage for her mother and two sisters, after he found work at a large Pennsylvania estate. Before coming to America, six year-old Amelia had never before seen forests or meadows or songbirds. One day, she was put in charge of her little sister and sent to gather nuts in the woods nearby. The little girls wandered out into a large area called The Meadows where, to their surprise, the rolling green fields they knew were covered with hundreds of white tents and companies of soldiers practicing drills. The children watched all afternoon, hiding in the tall grass, until the bugle call and lowering of the stars and stripes. When they ran home and told their mother, she explained that there was war between the North and South, and these were “President Lincoln’s soldiers preparing to go to fight for the Union.”
“Will Father have to go?” Amelia asked.
“Perhaps,” replied her mother. “This is our country now.”