Walking Into The Light At Gettysburg, a new documentary produced by Dr. Anthony J. Mussari, of Dallas, offers more than just a remarkable history lesson on what remains the most intense military battle on American soil. It also offers a lesson in self-discovery.
The film is part of Mussari's ongoing Face of America project, which he has developed with his wife, Kitch.
For Walking Into The Light At Gettysburg, the two bring 10 students from the North Plainfield High School in New Jersey to the Gettysburg National Military Park. And not only does the group find the visit to be educational and enlightening, but in some ways, life-altering.
And why wouldn't it be?
Standing on the grounds and amid the monuments where there were more than 51,000 casualties and where more than 7,000 fell to their death, the students – and those who view the film – are provided with not only staggering statistics on the battle of Gettysburg, but also poignant human stories that made the battle even more heart wrenching. The group also receives visits, courtesy of gifted actors, from General Robert E. Lee and Abraham Lincoln, who offer thoughtful perspective on the Civil War.
Throughout the documentary, Mussari - who was recently invited to show the film at the Gettysburg National Military Park - continuously paints the perfect backdrop to the tour. Quotes from Lincoln and Lee frequently appear on the screen, as do timepiece photographs, paintings and video re-enactments. There is also appropriate music and, most importantly, appropriate sentiment.
When the students offer thoughts on their time at Gettysburg during the film's final moments, important lessons are revealed. And as one young teen recites a poem she had written inspired by her visit, there are also a few tears.
Perhaps that is the greatest triumph of Walking Into The Light At Gettysburg. It teaches. It inspires. It captures the emotions one might feel while standing at one of America's most hallowed grounds exactly 150 years after it became such a landmark.
For schools unable to take such a memorable field trip, the film in many ways, can take them there.