Standing at a sundrenched podium in Historic St. Mary’s City, Governor Martin O’Malley joined hundreds of his fellow Marylanders on Sunday to commemorate the state’s 375th birthday.
Though a strong wind whipped off of the St. Mary’s River and swept through the pages of the Governor’s statement, O’Malley remained composed as he delivered an alternatingly humorous and emotional address on the heritage of Maryland.
“We cannot afford not to preserve the beauty of this place,” he said as his speech reached its climax, acknowledging the need to fund HSMC despite the state’s ongoing budget crunch.
O’Malley was joined onstage by House Majority Leader and St. Mary’s Trustee Steny Hoyer, Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., Washington Post Vice President-at-Large and Trustee Ben Bradlee, College President Maggie O’Brien, Executive Director of HSMC Regina Faden and President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Richard Moe, among others.
Numerous local politicians and St. Mary’s administrators, professors and students were also spread throughout the crowd. All were gathered to celebrate Maryland Day, a legal holiday that observes the landing of the Ark and the Dove on St. Clement’s Island.
Appropriately, each speaker centered largely on the legacy of Maryland’s first colonists and St. Mary’s City.
“This is not only Maryland’s first capital, but this is also where the roots of democracy were first planted in Maryland; it’s where the roots of religious freedom were first planted in Maryland…These are concepts we still believe in and embrace,” Moe said.
Hoyer, who represents St. Mary’s County in the House of Representatives, described his district as, “the mother county, a county of so many firsts.”
In a linear retelling of the Ark and the Dove’s journeys to Maryland, Frank J. Russel – President of the St. Mary’s County Board of Commissioners – concluded by adding, “Thank God it turned out this way!”
The Maryland Day Ceremony’s speakers also took time to honor all those who have contributed to the preservation of HSMC. Descendants of the first Marylanders, members of The Society of the Ark and the Dove and present and former Historic St. Mary’s City Commissioners were asked to stand and receive applause. Bradlee, who is 2009’s Marylander of the Year, was also frequently acknowledged.
Moe honored both Hoyer and O’Malley. He described Hoyer as “indefatigable” in his support of HSMC and called O’Malley one of a group of politicians who “gets it.”
Former Executive Director of HSMC Martin Sullivan and Roger Hill were also presented with an award for their service.
Additionally, O’Brien announced the College’s Martin Sullivan Museum Scholars program, which is planned to launch in 2012. The program, which aims to provide students with an intensive program in Museum Studies, has already garnered 240,000 dollars in endowment funds.
After the ceremony, senior Perry Colvin said, “I think that it’s tremendous to see Marty Sullivan honored so well. It’s a boon to our school to have such a wonderful man associated with us for so long.”