This was my first opportunity to sit and talk for a while with new Park Superintendent Susan Trail. Having done her Ph.D. research on the development of Antietam over the years, she is uniquely qualified to take on this position. She spoke much of the idea of standing now as the next in a long line of stewards who have brought this American treasure along to the extraordinary place that it occupies today.
When with this group of people, I’m always struck by the cumulative knowledge in one room at one time. Each person represents a unique set of varied interests and expertise on Antietam and the place it has in the broader study of the Civil War. Introspectively, it raises the question of “what in the world am I doing here amongst this gang?” I don’t know if I’ve written it previously in this blog, but I often say that within this group I am, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “the least of the Apostles.” Yet I hope to learn and grow and take it all in (continuously), and use whatever skills I may possess in synthesizing a vast body of information toward the end of communicating it in a summarily compelling fashion for others.
There are two sides to this venture: knowing the story, and then being able to communicate the story. As I have written in the first of these postings here in Enfilading Lines, there is no end to knowing the story – it is as bottomless as anything I’ve ever seen; there is always more to learn as more is discovered. And communicating the story is the mission of the Guides Program – and there are new and varied ways we shall seek to do just that, particularly in partnership with the Park on the occasion of this sesquicentennial year.
We cannot stand apart from the foundation of those who’ve gone before us in this place – upon the shoulders of such as Ezra Carman, O.T. Reilly, and historian Joseph Harsh. And we aspire to be worthy heirs of their research – toward the end of a faithful stewardship of growing it, and then passing it on to others who follow. All in all, it is a great privilege and honor to be even a small cog in such a machine.