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Faces and voices at Salute to Independence

July 08, 2007

Ellen Bibb, Sykesville, Md.

Ellen Bibb was standing in the parking lot pouring water into her dog Sparkles' drinking bowl.

Bibb said she was happy to be at Antietam National Battlefield on Saturday for the Salute to Independence.

"My husband (James Bibb) was a member of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, and his ancestors were Confederates," she said.

Bibb and her husband have been riding bicycles for the past three years, and whenever they come to the battlefield, they bring their bikes with them.

"We like riding and reading the historical markers," she said.

Lisa Oneacre, Doylestown, Pa.

Lisa Oneacre, her husband, Chad, and their 1-year-old son, Cole, have been traveling through Maryland since Wednesday.

"We have some friends that live in Maryland, so we decided to visit for a few days," Lisa said.

As volunteers, Lisa and Chad were looking forward to listening to the Maryland Symphony Orchestra and seeing the fireworks on Saturday.

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"We're hoping to help out today," Chad said. "Hopefully, he (Cole) cooperates today."

Toni Sodano, Hagerstown

Toni Sodano and her mother, Emily Sodano, bonded Saturday as they visited Antietam National Battlefield for the sixth time.

Toni talked to her mother about her brother not being present for the event.

"We're missing a family member," she said. "He couldn't come, but I made sure I called him to let him know that we were still coming out here today."

Toni said her favorite part of the program is watching the fireworks.

"Its really nice," she said. "The cannons starts going, and then the fireworks start going. It's very patriotic."

Cliff Kurt, Martinsburg, W.Va.

As Cliff Kurt set up a spot for him and his seven family members, he observed the area.

Kurt and his family experienced Antietam National Battlefield for the first time Saturday.

"We're a very patriotic family ... we'll enjoy celebrating the spirit of America together," he said.

Elizabeth McNeil, southern New Jersey

Elizabeth McNeil was wearing a red shirt that read "Property of America '76."

As McNeil and her family set up an area for shade on Saturday, she said that attending the Salute to Independence has become a tradition. McNeil and her family have been attending the program for seven years.

"I love all the patriotic songs," McNeil said. "We sing along."

Patty Prodonovich, Hagerstown

Patty Prodonovich was celebrating her 39th wedding anniversary on Saturday.

Patty, 60, and her husband Paul, 60, have been attending the Salute to Independence since it first began about 25 years ago.

"We were here the first year," Patty said. "We've only missed three."

As the couple walked around carrying their fold-up chairs and bags, they both agreed that they enjoy the music and the celebration the most.

Jeff Robison, Mount Airy, Md.

As Jeff Robison and Marilyn Mason sat in their chairs with their dark shades on to block the sun, they talked about the atmosphere at Antietam National Battlefield.

Mason invited Robison to the battlefield, and he was there for the first time. A native of Martinsburg, W.Va., Mason came to the battlefield for the sixth time Saturday.

"It's beautiful to see the mountains," Mason said. "Being here gives me serenity. It's a nice break from the rat race of life."

Peter Wyidra, Linthicum, Md.

Peter Wyidra was comforted by his chair, his straw hat and the shade.

The history buff said he likes being in the park.

"Although it (Antietam) symbolizes one of the bloodiest days in history, it's one of my favorites," Wyidra said. "Just like Gettysburg, this is one place that shaped America."

Marvin Bixler, Alliance, Ohio

"Stand right there," said Marvin Bixler as he snapped a picture of his wife, Cathie, on Saturday in front of the Antietam National Battlefield Visitors Center.

The couple came from Ohio to attend the Salute to Independence.

"Our son lives out in Martinsburg," Marvin said. "They (son and family) didn't want to come, so we left them and came."

The couple was visiting the battlefield for the first time, and were hoping to see the fireworks and historical areas of the battlefield, Cathie said.

- Compiled by Catherine Sudue

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