Volunteers wanted for Antietam re-enactment

July 21, 1997


Staff Writer

The Antietam Commemoration Committee needs about 400 volunteers for each of five days before and during the 135th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam in September.

The committee, which has been planning the event since July 1996, is looking for volunteers to direct parking, register participants, provide information, clean trash, take care of important guests and to perform a number of other tasks from Sept. 10 to Sept. 14.

Georgene Charles, chairwoman of the volunteer committee, said she could find a niche for all interested community members willing to make a firm commitment.


She said 100 volunteers will be needed daily to pick up trash and 80 to regulate parking each day for the estimated 75,000 visitors expected at the event between Sept. 12-14.

"We need volunteers for everything from taking tickets to parking cars to running errands to talking to the media," said Jeff Driscoll, director of programs and properties of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites Inc.

The committee also is looking for 50 volunteers to help guide school children through tours of the encampment and a living history of the Civil War on Sept. 12.

"I hope teachers see this as a valuable educational tool and work in accordance with the event," said Tom Clemens, a history professor at Hagerstown Junior College and head of the education committee.

Clemens solicited the Washington County Board of Education in May to encourage students to attend the re-enactors' portrayal of 18th century American history.

Between 320 and 485 volunteers will work, some in shifts, to welcome and register the nearly 15,000 Civil War re-enactors who will be arriving throughout Friday night and Saturday morning, Driscoll said.

"So even if they work a 3 to 11 (p.m.) shift at work, there's still a place for them to give their time," said Charles, who managed 1,000 volunteers last year for the Antietam National Battlefield Memorial Illumination.

"I encourage people to sign up now to get slots where they want," she said of the first-come, first-served basis for volunteer participation. She hopes to have all volunteer jobs assigned by Aug. 20.

Driscoll said about 100 people have signed up, but that's not nearly enough.

"A committee of a dozen people can't stage an event like that," said Gary Larsen, the Washington County Planning Department member assigned to coordinate the commemoration.

"The only way we can stage this event is with the help of volunteers from around the area," he said.

"People will talk about what an extraordinary event this was in years to come, and they can say they were a part of it," Larsen said.

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