Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thoughts on Sesquicentennial of the Battle of Antietam

I realize that I am a day late with this post but must say that after recovering from what proved to be a great weekend at Harpers Ferry and Antietam, I am truly glad to say that I was a part of it all!  When I first became interested in the Civil War in the spring of 2002, never did I imagine that I would participate in the events commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, a battle that changed the course of the war and changed the nation forever.

Briefly, I took part in the living history programs at Harpers Ferry all weekend, including a very touching moment at the site of the pontoon bridge over the Potomac River where 1,500 Union cavalrymen escaped Jackson's Confederates at Harpers Ferry 150 years to the minute as the escape was getting underway (more on that in an upcoming post).  During the 150th Anniversary of the bloodiest single day in American history, I participated in the all day battlefield hike, which nearly 600 people attended (again, more on that in a later post).  Great job and thank you to everyone at both parks for making the weekend one of the most memorable of my life.

However, beyond all of the events and pageantry of the weekend, please never forget the sacrifice that Americans have made across the world to fight for our freedom, and in some cases give "the last full measure of devotion" for that freedom.  As Dr. James McPherson said to conclude his remarks during the ceremony on September 17 (borrowing the words from Abraham Lincoln): "The world will little note nor longer remember what we say here, but we can never forget what they did here."  The organizers of the events to commemorate the climax of the Maryland Campaign never forgot what the soldiers of the blue and the gray did and we never must.

Again, the rest of my experiences will be posted shortly but please never forget the 23,110 Americans who became casualties on September 17, 1862 and the sacrifices they made to fight for what they believed in.
My first trip to Gettysburg in the spring of 2002

Me reading the names of the only a few of the soldiers who fell  on September 17 during the "Remembrance of the Fallen" ceremony at Antietam National Cemetery

Sunrise over the Cornfield, September 17, 2012