June 21, 2014, Chesterown, MD — The Grateful American Foundation is proud to announce the reopening of the Charles Sumner Post #25, Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) established in Chestertown, Maryland in 1882 today.
Starting at 9 a.m., visitors are invited to tour the newly renovated educational center, museum and performance space and celebrate all day long with music, food, games, and Civil War re-enactors.
“The newly restored building is one of only two such posts to remain standing in the United States today,” explains Leslie Prince Raimond (pictured right), who has been the executive director of Kent County Arts Council since 1991.
“The building was erected by U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) Veterans that returned or settled in Kent County at the end of the Civil War,” Raimond shares. “The building was erected in 1909 and for well over half a century served as a community center for Kent County’s African American residents; hosting lectures and social events, and attracting an array of nationally acclaimed entertainers including Ella Fitzgerald and The Sweet Hearts of Rhythm, while providing area residents with a site for developing actions for the betterment of race relations in Kent County.”
The local Decoration Day Ceremony was an example of the G.A.R. motto, “Fraternity, Loyalty, Charity” demonstrating a determined steadfastness of the nation’s founding principles, Raimond adds. “The founders’ display of respect for all was accomplished with such grace that the G.A.R. ceremony became the local standard for Memorial Day ceremonies.”
Founded by USCT Veterans and members of the Women’s Relief Corp, the Charles Sumner Post #25 has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2003. It now will resume its function as a vital Kent County historic site and a center for inclusive and unifying community activities.
One G.A.R. board member said, “This reopening is a strong demonstration of the area’s commitment to a diverse, forward looking community grounded in a mutual history of self determination.”
Events: Saturday, June 21!
9:00am – Buffalo Soldiers hold their quarterly meeting in the Building
9:30am – Buffalo Soldiers ride
10:00am – Festival Opens with children’s games and May Pole
10:20am – Sensational Stars
10:40am – Souls of Faith
11:00am – Burke Family Singers
11:20am – Frederick Douglas – reenactor Maryland Humanities Council’s Bill Grimmett
11:40am – Mass. 54th reenactors
12:00 pm noon – Ceremonial Wreath Laying for USCT (Colored Troops)
Led by Mass 54th soldiers, and the Kent County Middle School drum corps, followed by the festival attendees March to the Memorial Park on High Street in front of the Court House. A prayer by Rev. Clarence Hawkins.
MUSIC UNDER THE TENT
1:00pm – The New Gospelites
1:20pm – Peter Heck & Mary Simmons
1:40pm – God’s Wealth with Sunny Fassett
2:00pm – Pam Ortiz Band
2:20pm – Pilgrim Travelers
3:00pm – Tribute to the elders of our community
3:15pm – Poetry by Robert Earl Price and introduction of speaker
3:25pm – Dr. Clara Small, Keynote speech
4:00pm – Ribbon Cutting at Charles Sumner Post, plus Star Spangled Banner
5:00pm – The Vaughn Bratcher Project
6:00pm – 100 Voice Choir
Learn more at www.CharlesSumnerPost.org.
For additional information contact: Leslie Prince Raimond, Executive Director • phone: 410-778-1149 • email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: The image (top) is of William Carney, a USCT Veteran and recipient of a Medal of Honor. One of the 20,000 African Americans who fought for the Union in the Civil War, William Carney served with the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry as a Sergeant. He took part in the July 18, 1863, assault on Fort Wagner in Charleston, South Carolina — as depicted in the movie Glory.) He received the Medal of Honor for saving the American flag and planting it on the parapet despite being wounded several times.