Marching orders issued for Antietam volunteers

September 03, 1997


Staff Writer

Several hundred volunteers Wednesday took a wagon ride around the site of this month's Battle of Antietam re-enactment.

In order to stage the 135th Commemoration of the Civil War battle, organizers are relying on a small army of people to park cars, direct traffic, pick up trash and perform other duties.

"Not all the jobs are very glamorous, but they are all necessary," said Georgene Charles, who is spearheading the drive to recruit and organize volunteers.

Many of the volunteers who showed up at Wednesday's orientation represented multiple generations.

"We enjoy doing it. It's just the fact of getting to do it," said Fairplay resident Kevin Graff, who has helped in Charles' annual illumination activities at the battlefield.


"History in Washington County is vital and it needs to be remembered," he said.

Graff's daughter, Lee, 14, began helping out at illumination events when she was 6 and being pulled along in a sled by her brother. She remembered the long hours seeming like a chore several years ago.

Now, Graff said she enjoys volunteering and is looking forward to the weekend of Sept. 12.

"Now I've got some of my friends involved. It's more fun now," she said.

Most of the people who rode along on two wagons on Wednesday said they did not know what they would be doing during the big event. But they quickly added that they didn't care.

"I don't know. I told them I'd work wherever they need me," said Bill McEwen, of Cearfoss.

Charles said organizers plan five more orientation sessions at the Artz farm, where the re-enactors will stage the event:

* Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

* Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

* Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

With close to 300 volunteers, Charles said officials are comfortable. But she added that more is always better.

"We can always use more volunteers. That way, everyone can get more time to watch the re-enactment," she said.

No matter what their specific duties, Charles said organizers want to make sure volunteers are well acquainted with he layout of the site and can help and welcome the tens of thousands of spectators who are expected to pour into the county.

"It's a smile campaign," she said.

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