This past Sunday and Monday was a time I was able to meet with some people coming to Antietam Battlefield. Sunday was Easter, and as a pastor, it is a busy morning – especially this one when my primary musician and his wife both called very early to tell me they were sick and could not make it. I had to scramble and put together the music package with our worship team, along with speaking, doing a skit with four of the children, etc., etc. But it all worked out. And then there was a family lunch at home where 4 of my 5 boys were able to come.
I got a call during lunch to see if I could meet with some folks at 3:00; and I already had plans for two families for Monday. Together, these three families are somewhat a common case study of the wonderful sorts of people that I meet as part of the Antietam Battlefield Guides program.
Sunday Afternoon – The family was an older couple from Westminster, Maryland who brought with them their 20-something-year-old granddaughter from Nebraska. The granddaughter is currently serving in Washington as an with one of her Nebraska U.S. Senators – Mike Johanns. The family had been to Gettysburg and enjoyed it so much that they also decided to Antietam. Clearly the young lady had received a good education in Nebraska and asked wonderfully insightful questions … a very sharp gal indeed!
Monday Morning – An older and retired couple went around the battlefield with me, having arrived the day before and spent the night at a bed and breakfast in the Keedysville area. They went on the Sunday afternoon Ranger walk with John Hoptak – focused on Lawton’s Brigade and the West Woods. As if that was not enough hiking, they also did the Cornfield Trail by themselves. This couple had many insightful thoughts that led to good questions and comments, and I’m sure they went away with a very solid grasp of the battle and its context in the Civil War. These folks particularly exemplified the primary characteristic of the majority of people that I meet – no matter what age, there is a personal commitment to be a lifelong learner.
Monday Afternoon – I especially enjoy meeting families, and I met a really good one this afternoon – a family of five from Wisconsin. There was dad, mom, sons about age 14 and 11, and a daughter I’d guess to be about age 8. The younger son was REALLY interested in the Civil War! I meet some kids like this every once in a while and really like them – because that was me when I was their age! We made sure to especially place some emphasis upon the Badger State guys of the Iron Brigade on the west side of the Cornfield. And I am going to send them the excerpt from my Doubleday research on the conflict at Brawner’s Farm (3 weeks before Antietam) – where the Brigade had their baptism of fire (though the 2nd Wisconsin had fought earlier … the guys known as “The Ragged Ass 2nd”– due to their worn clothing).
So anyhow … these are the kinds of people who so often come and engage with the Antietam Battlefield Guides. If you are thinking about visiting at Sharpsburg sometime, yes, do it! I’d love to meet you, as would any of my colleagues who so much enjoy this endeavor.