Read My Brother's Keeper My America 1 Online

Authors: Mary Pope Osborne

Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Fiction, #General, #United States, #Diaries, #Historical, #Military & Wars, #Civil War Period (1850-1877), #United States - History - Civil War; 1861-1865 - Campaigns, #Gettysburg (Pa.); Battle Of; 1863, #Gettysburg; Battle Of; Gettysburg; Pa.; 1863

My Brother's Keeper My America 1 (6 page)

BOOK: My Brother's Keeper My America 1
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Jed had written about many horrible things. But he had written in a clear and beautiful way. He wrote what he saw and what he heard. He wrote what he truly felt and what he truly thought about the war.

He said the war has shown that all citizens in this country -- Northern and Southern -- are capable of evil deeds. He said we are tied to our humanity by only a slender thread. So we must all strive every day to be more loving and kind.

When Jed was finished, all of us praised his wonderful writing.

Jane Ellen even said she wanted to share it with the McCullys and Mr. Hoke.


At first Jed said no.

But Jane Ellen was firm. She said everyone should hear his story.

September 16, 1863

Important news today.

Reverend McCully stopped by our school to announce that Governor Curtin is going to buy property near Gettysburg for a cemetery for the Union dead.

It will be on the north end of Cemetery Ridge -- where the wheat field, apple orchard, and cornfield once were.

The bodies of Union soldiers will be removed from the shallow graves where they now lie. They will be given a proper burial in this sacred place. The new cemetery will be called the National Soldiers' Cemetery.


Jane Ellen brought more exciting news from Reverend McCully tonight. She told us there will be a ceremony in November to dedicate the National Soldiers' Cemetery.

The great orator Edward Everett will deliver a speech. Jane Ellen said that he is the best speaker in the nation. The governors of all the Northern states are invited, and cabinet members, and congressmen.

But the


exciting news is this: There will be another speaker at the ceremony.

It is President Abraham Lincoln himself!

We could not believe this news. President Lincoln is coming to Gettysburg!


I am on Cemetery Hill. This is the first time I have been here in several weeks.

My days are now filled with ordinary things -- arithmetic, spelling, geography, and Latin. With so much schoolwork and chores, there has been little time to write in my journal.

Thankfully there has been little to report. No battles. No death.

October 23, 1863

Betsy returned to school today. I did not know what to say to her. I felt she was part of a life I used to have. Not my life since the battle.


Wonderful news.

Mr. Hoke showed Jed's story to his newspaper boss in Washington, D.C. The boss liked it very much! He wants to publish the whole story in his paper!

But the best news is this: When Jed gets well, the boss wants Jed to move to Washington and work as a writer for the newspaper!

After Mr. Hoke left, Jed called Pa and me into his room. He gave us the great news. But he said he would move to Washington only if Pa and I moved with him.

Pa seemed to like the idea. He thought he could get a job teaching music at a college. Perhaps he could even play his violin in one of the theaters in Washington.

As Pa and I were leaving Jed's room, Jed asked me to stay for a minute. He looked me in


the eye and spoke very seriously. He said that if I kept writing, when I grew up I could write for a newspaper, too. He said it was all right to have two writers in the family. He said I was at least as good a writer as he.

Our life at this moment seems truly like a dream. I like to think my mother is spinning this dream for us.

November 7, 1863

Today Jane Ellen stopped me at the door of the schoolhouse. She asked if Mr. Hoke had come to our house last night.

I said yes. In a whisper, I told her the news about Jed's job in Washington.

Jane Ellen smiled knowingly. I realized then, of course, that she knew all about Mr. Hoke's offer to Jed.

Why, Jane Ellen was the one who had


caused it to happen! From start to finish. From the moment she gave Jed the copy book.

I told her that Jed wanted me and Pa to move to Washington with him.

Jane Ellen said she thought I would love Washington. Then a shadow crossed her face, and she fell silent.

I realized then that if Jed takes this job, he will not only be moving away from Gettysburg. He will also be moving away from Jane Ellen.

I must talk to him about this.


After supper, I told Jed about my talk with Jane Ellen. I told him I was worried about her feelings.

He listened carefully, then sighed. He told me to stop by his room before I go to school in the morning. But he did not say why.


Before I went to school, Jed gave me a note to take to Jane Ellen. I promised not to read it.

I delivered it as soon as I got to the schoolhouse. Jane Ellen took it from me without a word. She pulled down the map of the United States. She told us all to choose a state and draw it, showing its capitol and major cities.

Then she slipped outside. I knew she wanted to be alone to read her note.

I started to draw Washington, D.C., even though I know it is not a state.

A moment later, the door opened. Jane Ellen stepped back into the room. Or should I say she nearly danced back into the room.

I knew at once something wonderful had happened.

I quickly drew a little house on my map of Washington, D.C. I labeled it "Our House,"


then drew four tiny people: Me, Pa, Jed, and Jane Ellen.

November 15, 1863

Late afternoon. I am sitting on Cemetery Hill.

A cold wind is sweeping over the grass. Finally the odor of death has left our town.

In a few days, more than 15,000 people are expected to be here for the dedication ceremony.

Sadly, Jed will not be able to attend. He has a cold. The doctor does not want him to risk getting pneumonia.

I burst into tears at the news that Jed would not be able to see President Lincoln. He tried to cheer me up. He told me he needed me to be his eyes and ears again. He told me to


take my journal and write about the whole ceremony for him.

November 17, 1863

Today, we were dismissed from school so we could help clean and sweep the town for tomorrow's ceremony.

I pray I can get close enough to President Lincoln to write about him for Jed. I have learned that he will be staying at Judge Wills's house tomorrow night. Judge Wills's house is on the square, across from the Globe Hotel.

November 18, 1863

Pa and I are standing in the twilight, outside Judge Wills' house.

President Lincoln arrived a few minutes


ago. But the crowd was so thick we could not get close to him.

Pa held me up for a moment, so I could see the President step out of his carriage.

He is very tall with a black beard. His face has deep wrinkles.

He walked slowly, not looking at anyone. I watched him go into Judge Wills's house. Then the door was shut.

The crowd waited in the chilly dark and sang songs below his window.

An hour later

It is dark and cold now. People are still singing. Pa and I are still here, waiting. We are hoping the President will come out again.


Later still

The President is still inside the house. Pa thinks we should go home. He says that President Lincoln has likely retired for the night. He says the President must be giving deep thought to the words he will say tomorrow.

November 19, 1863

It is 10:30 in the morning. A heavy fog clouds the sky.

President Abraham Lincoln left Judge Wills's house a half hour ago. He is now riding a dark mare down Baltimore Street.

Following the President are Governor Curtin, two military bands, and many soldiers on foot and horseback.

The President is dressed in black and wears a high, silk hat.


I am standing now with the McCullys, Jane Ellen, and Pa in the grass near the speaker's stand at the National Soldiers' Cemetery.

The sun is starting to shine through the clouds.

President Lincoln is seated. He looks very serious. He must feel the weight of the world upon him.

The Honorable Edward Everett is starting to speak. The crowd has grown perfectly silent.


Mr. Everett is still speaking.


Mr. Everett is still speaking.


My goodness, Mr. Everett has been speaking for almost two hours!


Hurrah! Finally Mr. Everett is sitting down. The band plays music. Now it is President Lincoln's turn to speak. He puts on his glasses. He takes a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket.

He stands up. He looks at us. He speaks.


President Lincoln's speech was very short.

When he finished, the crowd was a bit slow to applaud. I am not sure everyone understood that the President's speech was over.


But slowly the applause began to grow, until it was like a mighty wave.

I know you would have loved President Lincoln's speech, Jed. It was short. But it was honest and powerful. Just the way you told me to write.

November 20, 1863

The newspaper printed all of President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. These are the lines I love the best:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.



. . .

we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

November 28, 1863

Tonight, the McCullys and Jane Ellen rode in the rain to our house. Mrs. McCully and Jane Ellen made a good meal of salt pork, yams, and biscuits.

After dinner, Jed called us all into the parlor. He and Jane Ellen were holding hands. They announced that they are engaged to be married.

Everyone was very happy. I think I was the happiest of all.


I am sitting on top of Cemetery Hill. A golden light bathes the freshly dug graves of those who died in the battle.

Last night Reverend McCully said there has been praise throughout the land for President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

He said that one magazine described the President's words best: They were from the heart to the heart.

President Lincoln hopes that those who died this summer did not die in vain. He is praying that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom, a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people.

He is praying that such a nation will never perish from the earth.

I think God listens to President Lincoln.

I think that people like President Lincoln,


Mrs. McCully, Mr. Hoke, Jane Ellen, Becky Lee, Captain Heath from the North Carolina mountains, Jed, and Pa will keep this nation from perishing from the earth.

BOOK: My Brother's Keeper My America 1
9.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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