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Sharpsburg relives, celebrates history

September 19, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

SHARPSBURG -- Sharpsburg's annual heritage celebration on Saturday included reminders of a soldier's life.

Musicians portraying the Second Maryland Infantry fife and drum corps performed at Main and Mechanic streets.

Nearby, the Maryland Historical Militia re-enacted the life of World War II soldiers, from uniforms to weapons to gear.

"We represent everyone from the Revolutionary War to today," said Rick Pike of Williamsport. "One guy does the French and Indian War. A couple of guys do the Civil War. We need someone for World War I. I do (Operation) Iraqi Freedom."

Pike said he served in Baghdad in 2005 and 2006 with the U.S. Army's 5th Special Forces Group from Fort Campbell, Ky.

Usually, re-enacting is reserved for the distant past, but Pike said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan need the same spotlight.

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"It's to remind people there is a war going on and we're the guys who fought .." he said. "We are making history today."

In World War II uniforms, Pike and Jim DeBow were surrounded by a packed foot locker, ammunition cans, Life magazines and pin-up pictures of women.

DeBow, a former Hagerstown resident now living in Fairfax, Va., said he served in the Navy from 1979 to 1989, a Cold War veteran.

When WWII veterans approach, their faces reveal interesting stories and experiences they're about to share, Pike said.

Some of the fife and drum corps' members have been playing as long as 50 years, said Denis E. Reen, who lives in the Urbana, Md., area.

They play early- and mid-19th-century pieces.

Re-enactors were in an appropriate spot -- across from the town's memorials to veterans of various wars.

The Sharpsburg Heritage Festival celebrates the town's history and residents, including veterans, said Natoma Vargason, one of the three event chairs.

The festival itinerary included a candlelight alley walk, music, breakfast, a flea market, book signings, house tours and wagon rides.

The Sharpsburg Historical Society's booth had a map on which property owners could trace the history of their parcel. In 1763, Joseph Chapline laid out 187 lots in the town known then as Sharpes Burgh, according to the Web site for Antietam Guest House, which sits on lot 74.

On Saturday, some people tried "6 Degrees of Separation From Captain Bender."

Like the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" parlor game, people who could connect themselves to former C&O Canal riverboat Captain Raleigh Bender were entered in a drawing for a stay at the Antietam Guest House, where Bender was born.

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