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Recalling the surreal days when the National Guard patrolled Baltimore’s streets | READER COMMENTARY

I read with great interest the Retro Baltimore article, “A witness recalls 1968, when the National Guard walked the streets” (June 11). I was a third year medical student at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in downtown Baltimore during the riots. There are three incidents that are seared in my memory for more than 50 years.

During lunch time we walked over to Howard and Lexington streets, the epicenter of downtown Baltimore at the time to see what was happening. The four corners had the four major department stores — Hecht’s, Hochschild Kohn’s, Hutzler’s and Stewart’s. Uniformed soldiers were guarding the department stores with fixed bayonets. The scene reminded me of cities in occupied Europe during World War II.

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I was on-call that evening until 10 p.m. Then I was escorted to my car with a campus security officer. He was a tall, burly man. As we walked to my car, the officer kept pounding his billy-club, looking to hit anyone causing any problem.

A close friend of ours had her wedding scheduled from that Saturday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The curfew began at 7 p.m. We were instructed to have the wedding as planned and to bring the invitations. The wedding was bittersweet as some of the people at the wedding had their stores burned to the ground. Near the end of the wedding, a group of uniformed National Guard soldiers drove by in a half-truck. Incredibly, one of the soldiers in the National Guard recognized the groom in the wedding party and waved to him. What an incredible day.

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Dr. Leon Reinstein, Pikesville

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