Salute to Independence at Antietam gets boost

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

The Maryland Symphony Orchestra has met one of its fund-raising goal in support of the annual Salute to Independence at Antietam National Battlefield.

The sponsorship goal went over the top Wednesday when the Board of County Commissioners of Washington County (MD) voted unanimously to approve a $20,000 grant in support of the event. The funds will come from the county's Hotel Rental Tax Fund.

As previously announced, the MSO had lost some of its corporate financial support for this year's event and its concert partner, the National Park Service, is unsure of its ability to contribute at the same level as in previous years.  

“Since learning that we were going to be under-funded for this year's concert, we have been working diligently to ensure that all of our previous sponsors were on board to support us again this year,” stated MSO's Director of Development Vicki Willman.  The sponsorship goal was $74,000 and with the commissioner approval approval, that goal has been met.  

In addition to those corporate sponsorships, the MSO launched its first ever public fundraising appeal to account for the $50,000 gap in financial support from corporate sponsors and the National Park Service.    

The “Save Our Salute” campaign was launched on March 23 with a designated web-site allowing for online contributions. As of April 12, nearly $33,000 of the campaign goal of $50,000 has been raised. The deadline to raise the remainder of funds needed is May 1.

“We are very grateful that the public and area businesses have been so generous in responding to our call for help,” said April Dowler, interim executive director of the MSO.  “It is important to us that we are able to continue to give back to the community through a concert that has come to mean so much to so many people in the four-state area.”

Willman remains optimistic that fans of the Salute will continue to contribute up to the May 1 deadline and that the goal will be met.  “This concert attracts thousands from the four-state area and if everyone who has ever attended the Salute would contribute even just $1, it would not only help us this year but in years to come,” said Willman.  

Now in its 26th year, the Salute to Independence has become a traditional holiday celebration attended by an average of 35,000 people each year.  As the event is held on a national battlefield, no admission or parking fees may be charged to attendees.  

To donate, go to, call 301-797-4000 or mail/drop off contributions at 30 W. Washington Street, Hagerstown, MD  21740.  The MSO office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  

The Maryland Symphony Orchestra is supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive.  The Maryland Symphony is the area's premier professional orchestra, dedicated to providing musical performances that educate and entertain, while enhancing the cultural environment of Western Maryland and the surrounding region.