April 9, 2013

Philadelphia with Flat Stanley; Day 3: Springtime In Valley Forge

At about 8:15AM, after checking out of the Travelodge and loading our bags into the trunk of the car, I set the GPS for a street in the town of King of Prussia, PA. There would still be enough time to make one more stop on this trip and that would be at Valley Forge National Historical Park. Our last day of adventuring would be spent in the place where the Continental Army made its encampment under General George Washington during the harsh winter of 1777-1778. Without proper shelter, food, or provisions, the army met with hard times. As New York's Governor Morris would attest: "An army of skeletons appeared before our eyes naked, starved, sick and discouraged." Then, on June 18, 1778, against all odds, this same impoverished army would reemerge from Valley Forge as a supreme fighting force ready to meet the British. This was to be the turning point of the Revolutionary War. 

After a brief stop at the Visitor Center to see the displays and to fetch a map of the area, we climbed back into the car to take the driving tour. While these rolling green hills are now an idyllic setting for picnicking families, bicyclists, and joggers, there are still plenty of traces of Old-World Valley Forge to give one a mental image of the way that the place must have appeared so long ago during those fateful winter months. There are stretches of land that were once redoubts that are still riddled with logged cabins and monuments. Costumed soldiers were on hand at these locations to explain a little bit about history and military life. There are also lots of cannons to be seen at the Artillery Park.

One of my favorite spots on the tour is the beautiful National Memorial Arch. This arch was dedicated in 1917 to commemorate the soldiers that spent the winter in Valley Forge. Its cobblestone walkways and billowing flag in background made for a beautiful setting.

Another cool sight is George Washington's Headquarters in the Isaac Potts House. This location was the hub of camp activities in 1777. Plaques describe it as the "Pentagon" of its time. As I leaned my shoulder against the old hearth, I couldn't help but think that George Washington himself may have leaned on that same spot at one time. I can only guess at the thoughts that must have been weighing on his mind.

As afternoon rolled on, Valley Forge National Historic Park had one more treat to share: the Washington Memorial Chapel. With ornate woodworking and stained glass windows, this 1900s church honors the service of America's first president. Having seen all that we wanted to see on this road trip, my family and I walked slowly back to the car remarking on how much we enjoyed our adventure. I think Flat Stanley really liked it too. My daughter got an A+ on the project. (*Note - Stanley shows up five times in this post.) Love & light...

"For I reckon
that the sufferings of this present time
are not worthy to be compared with the glory
which shall be revealed in us."

~Romans 8:18