Pundits often remark on how quickly presidents age while in office. The effect of four years or eight years of extraordinarily hard work and continual worry, not to mention fierce criticism from all sides, tends to transform a youthful, determined politician into an aged man.
This is part 2 of a very American double-header!
Have you taken the 2020 census yet? I did a couple of weeks ago, and I was surprised by how short it was. I remember it being very long and detailed in 2010, with questions like, “Do you carpool to work? If so, how many people are in your car pool?” Why does the government need to know that much information about me. I still don’t know the answer to that but nevertheless census records are really fascinating.
All we can know for sure is that these men met twice during their long lives. So I make up a story about them.
The first time they met was by chance. They had chosen to join an Army, and under the orders of various commanders, they marched and fought. Hunger and hardship dulled their thinking, until they moved from one battle to the next like sleepwalkers, no longer caring where they were.
On a hot July day, they found themselves on opposite sides of a battleground in a little town called Gettysburg. They were just two men in an overheated, seething mass of over 160,000. They were tired and hungry, but they were also healthy and young. Fighting, even on an empty stomach, held a certain zeal for them.
They were lucky enough to survive this bloody battle – though 50,000 other healthy young men men did not.
They met again in Gettysburg, this time in 1913 and by appointment.