|Friday, Dec 12, 2008|
The park held its 20th annual memorial illumination on Saturday, December 6th. Nearly 1200 volunteers placed and lighted 23,110 luminaries (candles inside paper sacks weighted down with sand) throughout the battlefield. Each candle represented a soldier who was killed, wounded or reported missing following the September 17, 1862 battle. Event sponsors included the NPS, the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the American Business Womenâs Association. Approximately 1,900 cars and buses drove through the park to view the candles from 5:00 p.m. until midnight. An opening ceremony was held at the Maryland Monument, with remarks by Superintendent J.W. Howard; Congressman Roscoe Bartlett; representatives of both Maryland U.S. Senators; Maryland Governor Martin OâMalley; Ms. Georgene Charles, Chairperson; and Kevin Graff, 20-year volunteer. The Ebenezer AME Choir provided musical selections again this year at the ceremony. Volunteers who participated in all 20 years were recognized at the ceremony. There were no incidents during the event, which was spared the icy conditions which occurred east of Antietam and Washington County, but not the cold temperatures. Event operations, traffic control and security for the event was provided by Antietam staff, rangers from several other National Capital Region parks, Maryland State Highway Administration personnel, Washington County Sheriffâs Department officers, and Hagerstown REACT.