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Antietam book coming out soon

September 21, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

SHARPSBURG - A coffee table book featuring photos of the annual luminaire lighting at Antietam National Battlefield will be sold to raise money for that and other projects, organizers said Tuesday.

"Antietam Reflections: America's Bloodiest Day Honored," goes on sale in late October, Georgene Charles, organizer of the annual event, said during an announcement at Dunker Church on the battlefield.

Each December since 1989, an army of volunteers has lighted 23,110 luminaires at the battlefield.

Each of the candles, nestled inside a paper bag, represents a dead, wounded or missing soldier from the Civil War's bloodiest day.

The volunteers see the luminaire project as more than a special event. It's a way to educate people about the enormity of the battle and the lives that were lost.

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"We have brought meaning to the numbers," Charles said.

Because the luminaire display is such a solemn event, organizers are careful not to commercialize it with advertising sponsorship.

But they hope the money raised through the book sales can be used to set up a foundation that will ensure the display continues for generations.

As seed money, volunteers used a $7,500 donation from the 135th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam.

The brother-sister photography team of Bo and Judi Quelland of Williamsport donated their time.

Local historians wrote about the story behind the pictures.

"This book's almost like a miniature prayer book because it can touch you, change you, and inspire you to be a caring person," said historian Dennis Frye.

The first printing of the book will be for 4,000 copies. It will sell for $39.95 retail.

Maryland Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, honorary chairman of the event, said seeing the luminaires showed him the significance of the Sept. 17, 1862, battle and left him speechless.

"It's impossible to describe, to put into words," Schaefer said.

The candles are lined up with the headstones of those who were buried the same way they died, shoulder to shoulder.

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