HAGERSTOWN — U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett received a surprise Tuesday as he entered the Dual Highway building where his Hagerstown office is located.
Bartlett, R-Md., learned that he had been named the new lifetime honorary chairman of the Antietam National Battlefield Memorial Illumination.
Each year, 23,110 luminaria are placed along the battlefield near Sharpsburg to represent each casualty during the Battle of Antietam in the Civil War.
Bartlett said he likes the new title, which carries no duties, because he greatly appreciates the event. He has attended each year he has been in Congress, starting in 1993.
This year’s illumination will be held Dec. 3.
Bartlett recalled that he was listening to classical music on Sept. 11, 2001, on his way to Washington, D.C., when he heard a bulletin that a plane hit the World Trade Center.
After a second plane crashed, Bartlett said his mind turned to Antietam and whether it would lose its distinction as the site of the bloodiest day of casualties on U.S. soil. (It didn’t.)
Bartlett was greeted Tuesday with several federal, state and county proclamations.
One was from Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley — who recently led the effort to reshape Bartlett’s congressional district so a Democrat would have a better chance of winning the seat.
Bartlett has filed to run for an 11th two-year term in 2012.
So far, Republicans Robert Coblentz, Robin Ficker, Joseph T. Krysztoforski and Brandon Orman Rippeon have also filed to run.
State Sen. Robert J. Garagiola is the only Democrat who has filed, but Duchy Trachtenberg and Dr. Milad Pooran have said they also are running.
Thomas B. Riford, president and chief executive officer of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Bartlett always gives a meaningful speech at the illumination and spends time with the many volunteers.
Bartlett’s predecessor as honorary chairman of the event was William Donald Schaefer, the former Democratic governor who died in April and attended the illumination many times, Riford said.