Friday, June 22, 2012

Antietam National Battlefield: Week 5

Hello followers,

Week 5 was another informative and exciting time here at Antietam National Battlefield. During the work week, Morgan and I were assigned to the Administrative Division where we learned valuable knowledge about park operations. We concluded our time with Administration on Friday, before driving to Fort McHenry to assist at the Star- Spangled Sailabration event. This "once in a lifetime opportunity" was a fantastic event and provided Morgan and I with priceless experience and memories.

We began our busy week on Tuesday morning at Park Headquarters, home of Antietam's Administrative Division. During our first day we assisted the Administrative Technician complete vital office tasks and learned the in's and out's of park operations. These tasks included filing the park mail, tracking training records, and answering phone calls. In addition, Morgan and I helped compile a mailing list for the park's upcoming special event and sorted the VIP invitations into stacks for mailing. The following day we would finish the invitation project by putting the letters into envelopes and adding the necessary parking pass to the list. When we were finished, the letters were stamped and sent off to their respective addresses.

As the week progressed we continued to spend time with the administrative personnel. On our second day at Park Headquarters we worked with the Contracting Specialist in order to learn the process of purchasing supplies, equipment and even construction projects. Our Contracting Specialist is also responsible for the park's credit card system, therefore; she was able to give us information for our weekend detail at Fort McHenry. Morgan and I also worked with the park's Budget Analyst to purchase office supplies and review the budget for this fiscal year. Antietam's Budget Analyst is responsible for Antietam's budget and also reviews the budget for Monocacy National Battlefield. In turn, Morgan and I were privileged to visit Monocacy while our Budget Analyst attended a meeting at the park. During our visit, Morgan and I were excited to see Chief Will Reynolds and Harpers Ferry Superintendent Rebecca Harriet, who were also at Monocacy.

During our final day with Administration, Morgan and I spent a majority of our time preparing for our trip to Fort McHenry. In preparation for the event, Morgan and I washed the vehicle that we were using and made sure it was ready for the drive to Baltimore. We also reviewed our event documents and confirmed that we had all of the necessary supplies for the weekend. After a final check of all the details, Morgan, C&O Canal ProRanger Saran Watts, and I departed for Fort McHenry.

Eric and I raising the Star-Spangled Banner.
Our time at Fort McHenry was full of great experiences. Morgan and I were both stationed in the Star Fort during the event. We were responsible for crowd control inside the Star Fort, as well as assisting Interpretative Rangers raise and lower the replica Star-Spangled Banner. The Star-Spangled Banner is an exact replica of the flag that was raised over Fort McHenry during the bombardment in 1814. This flag measures an impressive 30 feet by 42 feet and takes several people to successfully raise and lower. Helping to raise this large flag was an awesome feeling that very few people get to experience. Knowing that this was the same size flag, and the same location that Francis Scott Key was viewing when he wrote our National Anthem makes the flag-raising a truly special occasion.

In addition to raising the Star-Spangled Banner, the Blue Angels Air Show provided extra excitement to the event. Watching the pilots precisely fly their aircraft over Fort McHenry was an amazing sight. It was great to see such a large crowd turn out for the event, and everyone was impressed by the breathtaking maneuvers completed by our Navy pilots. I would like to thank all of the staff at Fort McHenry for allowing us to assist with the Sailabration event and the ProRanger administration for making our participation possible. This weekend provided us with an excellent view of the Incident Command System and exposed us to working a large event. The knowledge and  experience gained at this event will benefit us for the length of our careers.

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