My Beloved Fifth Regiment Armory,
It was a cold and dreary day in February when I first beheld your regal architecture up close. Your large stone walls were coated in frozen rain, which shimmered in the sparse sunlight. I remember being perplexed by the intricate details that had been carved into you, the Maryland seal the most prominent. Your fortress like appearance imposing, yet fitting.
You sit separate from the landscaping, perfectly centered in the middle of the parking lot. As I walked up your stairs, I was intimidated by your large doorway, and upon entry I looked up and saw what seemed to be an endless ceiling. It was as if I was in a medieval castle. Every word spoken in your halls echoed throughout the building. As I waited to formally join the ranks of many retired veterans before me, I stared at the pattern on your marble floors. As you aided my transition back into the civilian world, I imagined the multitude of soldiers before me that had passed through this exact hallway.
Your history is a noble one. You are Maryland’s oldest armory, built in 1901 and designed by the firm of Wyatt & Nolting. You were built to house National Guard soldiers and provide a space for many important events. In 1904, you rented space to businesses that fell victim to the great fire. In 1912, you hosted the National Democratic Convention, and saw Woodrow Wilson chosen as the nominee. By 1924, you were home to WFBR the world’s very first radio station operated by regiment officers. The year 1933 was a rough one after you experienced a fire. However, you came back in 1935 bigger and better than ever. Since then on you have stood as a pillar in the history of Maryland’s militia, ever ready to welcome a new soldier, or say farewell to an old one.
Ashley Tunstall is a retired Army veteran and student at University of Baltimore.
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