Marylanders at Gettysburg

November 12, 1994

Take a close look at the Sketchbook illustration by Sun artist Charles Hazard on the page opposite. It is a rendering of the Maryland monument being dedicated in Gettysburg tomorrow afternoon (troop inspection and concert at 1 o'clock; ceremonies at 2). Note the emotion on the faces of the two soldiers from our state -- one a Union soldier, the other a Confederate. Both are wounded, fighting on different sides. And yet they are helping one another off the battlefield.

What a fitting commentary on that decisive battle of the Civil War. The reconciliation between the two Maryland soldiers had begun, just as the reconciliation took place within our own state, and within the rest of the country. Differences on the battlefield -- were left there. Rebuilding shattered lives and rebuilding a nation torn asunder were what mattered.

Sunday's dedication is an important one. Maryland was the only state with regimental units on both sides at Gettysburg. Yet nowhere on that battlefield -- just a 90-minute drive from Baltimore -- was there a monument to the 3,500 Marylanders who fought during those three days of bloody conflict. And nowhere were the 520 Marylanders who died on both sides honored.

That oversight will now be corrected, thanks to the expressive bronze sculpture of Lawrence M. Ludtke. The monument sits near the cyclorama that attracts so many visitors. And the site gives visitors a clear view of Culp's Hill, scene of fierce combat between Maryland units.

It took $222,000 and five years to bring this dedication to fruition. Much of the credit goes to retired Baltimore advertising executive James A. Holechek. Upon visiting the Gettysburg FTC battlefield and discovering the lack of a monument to Maryland soldiers, he launched a personal crusade. It led to contributions from 2,000 individuals, 10 foundations, 50 corporations and the state legislature. And tomorrow, 131 years after the battle itself, Marylanders who fought so bravely at Gettysburg -- both those dressed in blue and those in gray -- will be remembered and memorialized.

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