Thursday, July 11, 2013

Harpers Ferry NHP Entry No. 3

I was lucky enough to work Gettysburg National Military Park's 150th commemoration from June 30th to July 3rd. On Sunday I worked at the information desk in the visitor center to gain knowledge on the park and its operations. I have not been to GETT since I was a child, so I had a lot to learn in one day. We answered questions about the park and of special events that were taking place during the week. Later on in the evening a ceremony was held near Meade's Headquarters where the Director of the National Park Service, the superintendent of GETT, the Gettysburg Foundation President, journalist Charlie Gibson, and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin all spoke in front of a large audience about the park, stewardship, and civil rights. My supervisor and myself worked security behind the stage for the entire ceremony along with fellow LE rangers, state and local police, and Park Police. This was a great opportunity for me as I was able to meet many people from different occupational backgrounds and listen to their experiences and advice. I was also able to guard the stairs for Trace Adkins, a country singer, who sung the National Anthem.
Director John Jarvis and myself
Trace Adkins ready to go on stage

For the rest of my time spent at GETT, I was assigned to the family reunification unit. The unit was located within the family and youth tent that was set up in front of the visitor center. My incident supervisor and I went over the SOP for missing persons that was included in our IAP. The procedures explained the proper way to inform the IC and field staff about the missing persons. The SOP also explained what to do before and after the search, including the verification process once someone had been found.  We also looked over the forms that had to be filled out during one of these situations. They went into detail about the identifying factors of the missing persons, contact information,  where they were last seen before they were separated, any medical or behavioral conditions the missing persons might have that could cause a danger to themselves or others, and if the the situation was considered critical or non critical. While waiting for the reports of missing persons, my incident supervisor and I helped man the family and youth tent. This was a great place for children to get a hands on experience with civil war history. There were replicas and props set up for the children to play with and learn about. There was also a dress up area where the children could try on remakes of civil war era clothes and uniforms. I had a great time teaching the kids how to play old fashioned games and sparking their interest in history with facts about the war. 

Family and Youth Tent Activites

On July 1st the Gettysburg Foundation was holding a special event called Salute to the States. The event consisted of a formal dinner and Civil War era ballroom dancing. Playwright and actor Stephen Lang made an appearance to perform a piece from his movie The Wheatfield. GETT also put reunion badges from each state that fought in the battle of Gettysburg on display for guests to see. My actual supervisor from HAFE, another LE ranger from CUGA, and I manned the doors of the visitor center for security purposes and to welcome guests. While performing this duty, I was fortunate to meet the Northeast Regional Director for the NPS, Dennis R. Reidenbach. I am very thankful that Director Reidenbach went out of his way to meet me and showed great interest in the ProRanger Program. 

Only July 3rd, park rangers led visitors to participate in a march in honor of Pickett's Charge. Pickett's Charge was a failed attack led by Major General George Pickett of the Confederates on July 3rd, 1863. This was the last day of the battle at Gettysburg. I worked traffic control with my supervisor on one of the streets that went right through the charge. We prohibited motor vehicles from entering on this road and interrupting the charge that was underway. It was a lot of fun to observe the enthusiasm of the visitors as they walked the same footsteps of Maj. Gen. Pickett and his troops. The operation went smoothly and all visitors and motor vehicle drivers remained safe.

Pickett's Charge

I am very grateful that GETT allowed me to participate in the 150th. I want to thank everyone for all of their help and advice that they gave me. Their experiences  that they shared with me were great learning tools for me to look back on as I strive to get my commission as an LE ranger. I truly enjoyed meeting everyone involved in the commemoration and hope I will see them again soon, either at another event as a ProRanger or out in the field when I become an LE ranger myself. 

On July 6th, I traveled to Sharpsburg, Maryland with my supervisor to work the 28th annual Salute to Independence event at Antietam National Battlefield. This was such a nice experience as I worked along with Jessica Cooper, ProRanger from ANTI, and Vinny Lemba, ProRanger from PRWI. We worked in the reserved parking lots, safely parking cars and directing traffic. The event consisted of vendors, musical entertainment including the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, and fireworks to finish it off. After the show concluded, the mass exodus of visitors caused a delay in traffic. I was stationed at the end of the visitor center's road and Dunker Church Road to direct traffic and keep visitors calm as everyone exited the park. 
I want to thank everyone at ANTI and the IC for allowing me to participate in such a renowned event. I thoroughly appreciated the experience and enjoyed meeting more park service professionals, as well as visitors. 
Jessica, Vinny, and myself

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you are having an awesome summer! Listen to Mr. Howard because a lot of what he is teaching you will be what we learn in the Academy especially the mock traffic stops!=)