Antietam scenes

July 02, 2006

Claiming territory

Roommates Meg Sholty and Janine Kerns of Hagerstown hauled blue tarps up a hill alongside the visitors center at Antietam National Battlefield on Saturday morning to reserve their spot for the evening's activities.

Many other spectators had the same idea, as the field behind the center already was patched with blankets and tarps by about 11:30 a.m., hours before the 7:30 p.m. start of the 21st annual Salute to Independence.

The Maryland Symphony Orchestra was scheduled to perform first, followed by fireworks.

Sholty said she has been going to the concert and fireworks since she was a child, and since then, she's learned a trick to beat the traffic after the event.

"We strategically parked our cars," Sholty said.

Sholty said she parked on Md. 65 in the direction of Hagerstown for a quick exit.

Cooling off

If it gets too hot, Debbie Miller of Bunker Hill, W.Va., sits inside the visitors center at Antietam National Battlefield watching Civil War movies.


It's one of the ways to kill time and keep cool while waiting for the orchestra and fireworks later in the evening, Miller said.

Debbie and her husband, Mike, arrived at the park about 11 a.m. to scope out a spot for the event.

"Mike's a Civil War buff, so we come to Antietam even when it's not the Fourth of July because it's a Civil War battlefield," Debbie Miller said.

"It's just beautiful here," she said.

Debbie Miller said she also planned to read, or possibly take a walk with her husband to Burnside Bridge.

"It's a really long hike, so we're trying to decide that," she said.

Docs reunited

Dr. Ronald E. Keyser, of the Washington County Health Department, and friend, Dr. Ernie Seiter, strolled Saturday morning through Antietam National Battlefield.

Until a class reunion last month, the two hadn't seen each other in 50 years.

Keyser, of Hagerstown, and Seiter, of Rising Sun, Md., said they decided to spend some time over the weekend catching up.

While they didn't plan to watch the concert or fireworks Saturday night, they said they were enjoying exploring the battlefield.

Saturday was the first time Seiter had been to Antietam.

"We're having a great time," Keyser said.

Keyser said he found Antietam's Civil War medicine display "fascinating."

Cheneys campaign

Sheldon and Joy Cheney, although they pronounce it slightly different, aren't thrilled they share the same last name as Vice President Dick Cheney.

The Cheneys, who live near Rohrersville, were at Antietam National Battlefield Saturday campaigning for congressional candidate Andrew Duck, a Democrat.

Joy Cheney surmised the possibility exists the family could be related to Dick Cheney, but they only would be "very" distant cousins.

"I hope not," Joy Cheney said.

Politics aside, the Cheneys said they planned to relax in the shade before enjoying the Maryland Symphony Orchestra and fireworks in the evening.

"I think it's a very nice show," Joy Cheney said. "The only problem I have is it's just so crowded. It's not so bad to get in here, but to get out in the evening, it's just awful."

Flying the flag

The Hagerstown and Antietam Exchange Clubs hoped to sell about 400 American flags Saturday at Antietam National Battlefield.

The flags are part of what remains of the approximately 3,000 flags that flew in 2004 at Antietam as part of the Healing Field, a memorial to those killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Proceeds from the sales go to the Parent-Child Center, said Millie Lowman, executive director of the center.

A certificate sold with each flag states it flew from July 1-4, 2004, at Antietam.

"A lot of people buy and fly them right here," said Carol Consoletti, wife of an Exchange Club member.

Several American flags could be seen flying from tents or along fences at the battlefield.

Flags - $10 each or $15 each with a pole - are also available by calling the Parent-Child Center at 301-791-2224.

- Tara Reilly

Room for reading

It's 'by the book' for some spectators

Frisbees. Balls. Card games.

Or, just sitting, resting, relaxing.

There were plenty of ways to while away the time at Antietam National Battlefield on Saturday before the Salute to Independence began.

Kicking back with a good book - or magazine - was popular, too.

Helen Humphrey of Hedgesville, W.Va., wanted to bring a thick genealogy book, but settled for something easier to carry - "All Creatures Great and Small" by James Herriot.

Jane Gocha of Hagerstown was more than halfway through Carl Hiaasen's "Skinny Dip."

"It keeps you reading," she said, with approval.

Steve Wagner of Waynesboro, Pa. - a fan of books by Dean Koontz and James Patterson - brought Jonathan Kellerman's "Twisted," a detective thriller.

Hunt and Peggy Hardinge of Hagerstown arrived about noon.

They treat the Salute as a summer cleaning for periodicals they haven't gotten to; they brought several.

Hunt switched between an issue of Time magazine and Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything."

Peggy leafed through a "Solutions" catalog of home products.

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