Salute to Independence vignettes

July 03, 2010
  • Paul Green

As the athletic director at Fort Hill High School in Cumberland, Md., Paul Green, 66, knows how important it can be for youths to be educated on their nation's past.

A spectator at Saturday's Salute to Independence at Antietam National Battlefield, Green hopes that tours and events such as those held Saturday will educate young people on the importance of paying tribute to the nation's independence.

Last year was Green's first experience at the battlefield. Since he was pleased with the event, Green decided to make the trip a tradition.

"This is a great event, that's why (my wife and I) came out," he said. "Kids don't understand history and what happened at Antietam. It helps us learn our history."

The father of one son, Paul Jr., Green said the event also grants the opportunity for him and his wife to venture out further than their backyard. He said in previous years, they always celebrated the holiday with a picnic in their backyard.


Now that their son is married, the couple has the freedom to experience the activities at Antietam.

"We met a lot of friendly people," Green said. "It's a great, friendly community."

-- Eboni Jaggers

Zack Klingensmith sat anxiously in a chair while his friend set up the tent behind him. His face lighted up with excitement for the Independence Day celebration.

After going to a different Fourth of July celebration last year, Klingensmith, 23, made his way to Antietam National Battlefield for the first time for the Salute to Independence.

Klingensmith said he had a chance to take a tour of the battlefield. He expressed amazement at what happened at Antietam many years ago.

"It's at least cool to think about that, and to spend one day of the year to celebrate that," Klingensmith said.

Last year, Klingensmith said he spent the Fourth of July in Washington, D.C. He described the experience as hectic, and was more hopeful about the one at Antietam.

"I actually think this one will be more cooler than the one in D.C.," he said.

-- Lucia Tayo

After living in Hagerstown for 40 years, Charles Buffington said he finally got the courage to make the trip to Antietam National Battlefield to witness the Salute to Independence.

This year, Buffington picnicked at the battlefield, awaiting the excitement of the events yet to occur, while his wife and two daughters played and relaxed.

Buffington said he always has known about the celebration, but he and his family usually go to Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown since it is closer to his home, but the Fairgrounds Park event is being held tonight.

Buffington said he celebrates Independence Day because after watching what people go through in other countries, he is thankful for the freedoms that Americans have.

Buffington said he was happy to be able to spend quality time with his family, and said he later would enjoy some music and fireworks.

--Lucia Tayo

Ten years ago, Janet Harkness of Calvert County, Md., didn't know how significant an Independence Day celebration at Antietam National Battlefield would be to her family.

Harkness said she and her sister used to come to the battlefield with their father as children, and began coming to the Salute to Independence 10 years ago.

Now, she realizes the tradition is beginning to become very important to her children.

"It has become a significant tradition to my two youngest children," Harkness said. "I have a feeling that if they stick around here, they will bring their children as well."

Harkness and her family showed up early for the festivities, ensuring they would find a good parking spot.

Harkness said she was pleased with the celebration, but would enjoy it even more if there was music playing all day.

"Apart from that, I like it just the way it is," she said.

--Lucia Tayo

Brannon Jones decided to arrive at Antietam National Battlefield early Saturday to check out a spot and begin setting up for the Salute to Independence.

At first glance, Jones, 26, seemed to be a young man anticipating a good show with family. However, he seemed to be there to embrace the significance of the battlefield and take in a historic event.

Jones said he has not been to a celebration at the battlefield before. He said last year, he went to the celebration in Washington, D.C., with a friend.

"We spent about two hours waiting for a subway," Jones said.

This year, Jones was expecting the celebration to be packed with friends and family.

"It's numerous people that come, so it should be a pretty good time," he said.

As Jones finished setting up his tent, he sat down and expressed his anticipation for the later events.

"I'm a high school history teacher, so I naturally love everything history," Jones said. "It doesn't get more historic than the Fourth of July."

-- Lucia Tayo

Thanks to the encouragement of those at her job, Larissa Uphold and her family finally have found a lasting Independence Day tradition.

Saturday marked the seventh year the Uphold family spent its Fourth of July at Antietam National Battlefield.

The Herald-Mail Articles