Sunday, June 5, 2016
The Crack of the Cannon
I was thrown right into the thick of it here at Antietam National Battlefield. That’s partially because the Law Enforcement staff is a man down, due to the Ranger at ANTI and ProRanger graduate currently attending FLETC. The other reason is that it was Memorial Day weekend at the site of the bloodiest single day battle in American history.
Antietam National Cemetery
Every year Antietam Battlefield holds a service within its National Cemetery in honor of Memorial Day. It was a privilege to witness the event because I don’t believe there is a more fitting place to observe Memorial Day than the grounds of this battlefield. Because the service is one of the park’s more important occasions, my privilege was further extended when I was granted responsibility within the ceremony. I was put in charge of guarding the line for Battery B. Battery B is a Union Army artillery cannon reenactment group. Their role in the service was to fire the cannon to commence the memorial service and then to fire it as the flag was raised to full mast ending the service. The ceremony was my first experience with living history and my first time hearing a civil war cannon being fired. Standing that close to the cannon brought forth another vantage point within me. I’m telling ya, you wouldn’t want to be hit with one of those things. I felt my lungs dramatically contract during the two shots. Having that experience brings forth a further respect for the “Artillery Hell” experienced in The Battle of Antietam.
As the week progressed, I was able to participate in a Physical Efficiency Battery and Defensive Tactics Training with a Seasonal Ranger positioned at Monocacy National Battlefield. Both were administered by my supervisors at ANTI and I’m grateful they allowed me the opportunity to receive exposure to the training. I have done PEBs at INDE and during the application process to the ProRanger program. I’m pleased that my scores have gone up since those, but it was my first exposure to D-Tac training. So Defensive Tactics stole the show a little bit for me. Fortunately, the training was thorough and I could soak in as much as possible.
I took advantage of slow-periods by getting to know the grounds and employees of the battlefield with my supervisor, Rory Moore. Rory’s initial position as a Seasonal Interpretation Ranger at ANTI has been incredibly advantageous in learning the history of the park. The fact that he’s been a Law Enforcement Ranger here for eight years as well, allows him to give further insight into the quirks of the park from both a historical and law enforcement perspective.
Next week I am looking forward to learning more of the history of the battlefield, especially the stories of the farming families that occupied the area of war. This week was influential in establishing my home base with the protection unit of the park. I’m pleased I was able to work within that division first, but I’m enthusiastic to work within other divisions as well.