Saturday, September 19, 2009

Today at the Blogger's Gun...


l to r, John Hoptak, Brian Downey, Harry Smeltzer, Craig Swain, Ranger Mannie, A.P. Hill

"a gathering of beagles"

Friday, September 18, 2009

An overabundance of sergeants

Duly noted...

all grasshoppers appear to be non-coms.

From the field,

Ranger Mannie

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Going Home

Today was a poignant and remarkable day at Antietam National Cemetery.

This morning the remains of a young soldier, found last October in the Cornfield, were sent off in solemn ceremony, home at last. Almost exactly 147 years following the combat death of this young Union soldier his remains are bound for Saratoga National Cemetery in his home state of New York.

The ceremony at Antietam National Cemetery was marked by dignity, respect, and genuine affection. With professionalism, grace, and poise the National Park Service turned the remains over to representatives of the New York National Guard who will escort the young unknown soldier back to New York.

Six Park Rangers, my colleagues and friends, served as pall bearers on what was an incredibly beautiful late summer morning for this very moving event. (video here)

The pall-bearers, from a variety of divisions at the park are briefed at 8:15 a.m.

Crafted with great care and attention to detail by park staff, this elegantly simple box, beautifully lined and fashioned from a walnut tree from the Mumma Farm, contains the remains of the young unknown Union soldier.

As the hearse arrives a silence descends upon the gathering.

The pall bearers proceed to the hearse to receive the empty pine box, an exact replica of a soldiers casket of the Civil War.

The empty casket is carried to the cemetery lodge building where the box with the remains awaits.

The empty casket is followed by a member of the honor guard of the New York National Guard carrying the burial flag.
The doors closed for the transfer as two park volunteers in replica uniforms stood by.

The flag-draped coffin containing the walnut box with the soldier remains emerges from the lodge building...

as the Maryland State flag is dipped in salute.

Within moments, flag, coffin, and soldier left Antietam behind, bound for a long deferred journey home and a final rest in peace. The price of "America's Bloodiest Day" remains a very tangible thing for the people who work at Antietam National Battlefield. This event is one more reminder of the service and the sacrifice that are sometimes the price of freedom.

Today I felt very grateful to a young Union soldier, and very proud of the men and women I'm privileged to work with at Antietam National Battlefield.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The way it is with me.

I do what I love

I love what I do

and I'll keep doing this as long as I can

Still Rangering, just north of Sharpsburg,


Friday, September 04, 2009

POV: Antietam National Battlefield

A change in point of view can make for a very different sort of battlefield tour.

Dunker Church

The Visitor Center

The Maryland Monument

The New York Monument

Come see for yourself.  The park has never been more beautiful.


Thursday, September 03, 2009

Magnetic Personality

Something I was working on here last month...

became manifest today in all of its magnetic glory as Fedex delivered the finished product to the visitor center.

A half-size magnetic vinyl soldier in his long johns with three magnetic uniforms that kids can trick him out in. In addition to the Federal sack coat and kepi he also has a very colorful Zouave uniform. And for pure functionality as well as the look of the jaunty campaigner...

the always comfortable Confederate in a well-worn slouch hat.

I think there may be more to this project (uniform-wise) as funding becomes available.

Staying fashionable, just north of Sharpsburg,


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Change is in the air

Tuesdays and Wednesdays are my days off from Antietam National Battlefield. This morning I actually slept in, I'm usually up by 7:00, but today began at 8:30. The cool air coming in the French doors from the backyard made for a very good nights sleep. The day was bright and cool, a perfect day to put the bike in the truck and head for the C and O Canal towpath and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

Harpers Ferry is one of my favorite places around here. After a six mile pedal on the towpath from milepost 67 I parked my bike under the Railroad/pedestrian bridge that spans the Potomac and walked into the Ferry. It was a perfect time to be there.

The height of the season is behind them and the more sedate operational tempo provided me with many opportunities to find myself nearly alone from time to time. I lounged on a bench and watched the people go by as the late morning sun warmed me and the paving stones. The sky was absolutely beautiful and the air was filled with the fragrance of late blooming flowers.

I took advantage of the absence of milling throngs to visit several of the museum buildings including the machine shop and dry goods store. I also stopped at the Visitors Center and took this picture of one of my favorite artifacts...

the 100lb. Parrot shell (Pepsi for scale). I did examine it closely.

Then it was back to my bike and the six mile pedal to where my truck was waiting. Arriving home I putzed around in my new studio, did a few chores and then made a small pizza for supper, which I finished in time to step back out on the deck to marvel at a beautiful sunset sky over my Cumberland Valley.

That's when I realized that this had been the first really happy day I've had in nearly six months. What a welcome change.

Thinking positive, just north of Boonsboro,


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Revelation and transformation (500th post)

I've lived in my mountainside cottage for two and a half years now. In that time this little garden shed sat in the backyard, underutilized, seldom visited, collecting junk, bugs, and webs. Only recently did it reveal its true purpose.

Now that I'm living alone I'm staying as busy as I can, always on the prowl for projects to fill the void. I decided to empty out the garden shed and consider what better use could be made of its 8 x 16 floorplan and tight roof.

The first step was to run electricity to the structure. The soil around here made this a two day, pickaxe wielding chore. But I ran the conduit and Romex just as a record heat-wave descended into the valley. Nonetheless, the goal was achieved and two outlets and two sets of tracklights were installed.

Next came walls, wainscoating, ceiling shelving, work surfaces, caulking painting, indoor/outdoor carpeting, and two weeks later - today - I moved into my three season studio.

The ammunition chests under the counter house zillions of plastic 54mm ACW guys.

The ceiling is open to the sky to allow inspiration and fun to flow in while allowing worry and melancholy to flow out. Clever eh? Oh my, you can see the stars!

The primary counter top allows toy soldiers to run rampant over a painted Cumberland Valley whilst I'm away.

Upon my return, without fail, all troops resume their static position on the shelves; plastic ACW men above, paper Prussians below.

Gadzooks! perhaps the pewter Third Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment has finally found a permanent home.

I'm hoping exactly the same thing about me.

The space also accommodates my drawing table, where for three seasons of the year I hope to move lots of ink around in a productive manner...

including work for the Park.

Eventually the shelves will be filled with soldiers and buildings, and an occasional battle may rage upon the green carpet.

If you're ever north of Boonsboro, give me a shout. Until then, wish me well.