History the focus of Memorial ceremony

Calvert High School student Nick Cammaroto

Chesapeake Beach, MD - The 2016 Stars and Stripes Festival got off to a flawless start Saturday, May 28. A modest-sized crowd converged at Veterans’ Memorial Park on a perfect day with the Chesapeake Bay glistening in the background. The focus of the fifth annual festival is the American Civil War (1861 – 1865). In the past the festival honored fallen heroes from the more recent wars—those with survivors to recall and share their first-hand accounts. The Civil War is obviously a conflict that can only be revisited by written and photographed history accounts. The event’s opening ceremony featured three speakers who have delved into the Civil War era’s history.

Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. told the audience he collects historic artifacts and part of his collection includes letters from two members of Maryland families who fought on opposite sides of the war. “It [Civil War] was brother against brother, father against son,” said Miller.

The event’s keynote speaker, College of Southern Maryland (CSM) President Dr. Bradley Gottfried, who has written several books on the War Between the States, noted that Southern Maryland was a significant location during that era. “About half the population of Southern Maryland was enslaved,” he stated. Gottfried said Abraham Lincoln was an extremely unpopular figure in the region. Only three men—one from each county voted for Lincoln in the 1860 Election. All three men were known to their communities and all encountered hostility due to their support of Lincoln.

Gottfried stated that in October of 1861 Union soldiers occupied Charles County and brought with them behavior issues, as several of them robbed and plundered the community.

“Southern Maryland was in shambles after the Civil War,” said Gottfried, who explained that although it was not a combat zone, so many of the region’s young men did not return home to the farms. “We [Southern Maryland] certainly bore the brunt of this war.”

Perhaps the event speaker who got the audience’s greatest attention was soon-to-be Calvert High School graduate Nick Cammaroto. The teen indicated the Civil War had two American sides clashing and no one should marginalize “the very American struggle of the South during the Civil War.” Cammaroto read a letter to the editor he wrote in response to recent actions to ban the display of the Confederate flag and remove monuments to Confederate soldiers. Cammaroto directed his letter to the Confederate soldiers. “I see powerful forces trying to rip you from the pages of history,” he stated. “We must safeguard your memories.” Cammaroto disputed the notion that “slavery” was the lone polarizing issue that prompted the War Between the States and was the only cause of the conflict. He observed that in America today, “we are more divided now than we were in 1860. Do not gray lives matter?”

In addition to oratory, Saturday’s ceremony featured patriotic music by the U.S. Naval Academy Band Brass Quintet, presentation of the colors by the Huntingtown High School Junior Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps and introduction of dignitaries by Chesapeake Beach Mayor Bruce Wahl.

Contact Marty Madden at

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