This past summer has brought record-breaking rain even before Hurricane Irene arrived. The week after, we were soaked again with rain, winds, and flooding from a tropical storm.
At the tail end of the tropical storm, after a long night of constant, heavy rain, I was up early ready to start my day. I was tired, but thankful for another opportunity to build our business. It was still dark and pouring so hard that I was drenched long before I was inside my car just 20 feet from our door. I was on the road by 4:15 a.m. and driving slowly due to low visibility. About a mile into my travels I see two large waves crest and splash above the sides of my front hood. The black wet road 20 feet ahead of me was instead the edge of a temporary river flowing across my daily traveled road. As I reach to put the car in reverse, the car stalls never to start again. As I opened the door I was welcomed with a gush of freezing cold water erasing any hope of using my car for future Antique Adventures. My day was done before it got started.
The weekend previous to this helped me put it all in perspective. We took Labor Day weekend to learn more about the Civil War Battle of Antietam. Sharpsburg, Maryland, September 17, 1862 marked the start of “the bloodiest one-day battle in American history”. 23,000 people killed, wounded or missing within a 12 hrs. The “Antietam Field Guide” quotes Major General Joseph Hooker, “In the time that I am writing every stalk of corn in the northern and greater part of the field was cut as closely as could have been done with a knife, and the slain lay in rows precisely as they had stood in their ranks a few moments before. It was never my fortune to witness a more bloody, dismal battlefield.”
As history unfolded that day, there was hope as represented by Clara Barton. Famously known for starting the American Red Cross, Clara gave of herself mentally, physically, and financially to care for the wounded. To stop and consider how many needed attention throughout this battle is overwhelming. We were inspired by her determination, ability to cut through the “red tape” to get things done, and her boldness and bravery to voluntarily submit herself to such an environment.
From a historical antiques perspective, the Visitor Center had a very interesting and enlightening display one level down from the entrance. Civil War uniforms, weapons, medical supplies, paintings of the battlefield, and an American flag made for General McClellan are all some of the items that can be viewed and read about.
That weekend we came away with some historical lessons, an appreciation for our freedom, insights on historical antiques and a somber respect for those who served there.
We will continue to visit National Parks as often as we can. I encourage you to purchase the guidebooks and audio tours usually located in the gift shop. They are professionally done, high quality and rich in historically accurate content. It was very nice to start and stop at our leisure. It’s like watching a captivating documentary while standing in the middle of it. The National Park Service does a great job in presenting the history and maintaining the grounds. We highly recommend visiting one near you. Just make sure it’s not on a weekend of torrential rain.