Travel

A Penn Dutch
   Experience

by James Tierney

Is it AIM..ish or ARM..ish?? You heard it here first. The correct pronunciation is ARM..ish,  even though AMISH is not pronounced as it is spelled. Also, Amish is not a religion. It's a way of life and its teachings follow the Bible, with emphasis on morals, life's lessons, ethics, and character building.

There are no church buildings. They worship in homes, alternating in different homes. The Mennonites settled in Lancaster, with Swiss and German dialects, and the Amish broke away from them to observe a more traditional way of life, with horse-drawn buggies and self sustaining farms. Fortune 50 members experienced a part of their life first hand with a traditional feast in an Amish home.

We saw an incredible production of "Daniel", the biblical story, on a 300 foot wraparound stage, in the front and on both sides, with simultaneous productions on the three stages. The production featured live animals on stage and in the aisles. The sound and special effects were spectacular, especially Daniel in the Lion's Den, and his friends, Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego walking out of the fiery furnace.

A visit to Wheatland, home of our 15th President, James Buchanan, gave us insight on who the man was and his accomplishments. He struggled to calm a divided nation on the brink of civil war. If he took action at Fort Sumter, he may have gone down in history with Lincoln's popularity. The war was inevitable when Lincoln became President because of his position on slavery.

Walking along the battleground of historic Gettysburg, and hearing its history, made us reflect on what occurred here in July 1863 and provided more meaning to Lincoln's "Four Score and Seven Years Ago". Although it was both sad -- the number of lives lost on both sides -- and happy -- the north and south were united -- we wondered how things would be today if the country was divided. It is worthy to note that six generals of the Civil War became Presidents of the United States. While there, we took a group picture at the Massachusetts monument.

Our happiness was enhanced in Hershey, like a bunch of kids in a candy store, literally, when we arrived at the corner of Cocoa Street and Chocolate Avenue, with Hershey Kisses street lights. We rode in a "Small World", "Tunnel of Love" type of vehicle and watched an automated picture story of the chocolate making process. Naturally, we ended up in the gift shop that was 90% candy. Milton Hershey is a story in itself, creating the town of Hershey, which includes a 12 grade school for financially and socially needy children, as well as a museum and Founders Hall. We toured this entire area before heading home.

The trip brought us from the Bible story of Daniel, to the simple living of the Amish, to the impressive home of James Buchanan, to the solemnity of the Gettyburg battlefield, to the calorie-laden Hershey chocolate factory. A real educational experience.  

  


October 4, 2002


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