Heritage Victory In Marlyand!
"Maryland My Maryland Saved"
On April 19, 1861, patriotic citizens of Baltimore stood in fierce opposition to members of the 6th Massachusetts Regiment, answering Lincoln’s call to invade the South. Tempers flared, an altercation ensued and soldiers of the Sixth fired indiscriminately into the crowd. Twelve patriotic Marylanders, along with four Federal troops, were killed that day as the first blood of the War Between the States was shed. James Ryder Randall memorialized the events of that day in his poem Maryland My Maryland, which was set to music and adopted by the Maryland Legislature as the official state song in 1939.
Since 1980, resolutions to change the State song have been introduced at hearings before the Maryland General Assembly. This year, House Bill 1241 and Senate Bill 892 were introduced in Committee, proposing to replace the current historical lyrics with an insipid ode lamenting how "we love thy streams and wooded hills, thy mountains with their gushing rills, thy scenes-our heart with rapture fills, Maryland, my Maryland” Ostensibly, these bills were sponsored in response to the petitions of a local elementary school students who found the lyrics “old fashioned” and mean spirited. Apparently, the historically accurate references to Lincoln as “the despot’s heel” and the invading 6th Massachusetts as “Northern scum” offended the sensibilities of the youngsters.
Upon learning of the latest legislative proposals, members of the Maryland Division SCV mobilized to contact their respective State Senators and Delegates in opposition to the proposed bills, as well as local newspapers, and talk radio stations. It was fortunate that members of several Maryland SCV Camps and UDC Chapters came to personally testify before the respective Committees, balancing the media coverage of school children singing the proposed new lyrics to the Legislators. An excerpt of the testimony presented before the Committee included the following:
No State or its citizens suffered more indignities than those bestowed on Marylanders by the hands of the Lincoln administration. While some are critical of the phrase “The despot’s heel is on thy shore”, it is an accurate description of the innumerable violations of Constitutional liberties suffered by Marylander’s which included suspension of habeas corpus, false imprisonment, illegal searches and seizures, suppression of free speech, censorship of the press, voter intimidation, and even the illegal arrest of the duly elected members of the Maryland Legislature. Let this song continue to remind us of the dangers of allowing the government to trump the Constitutional rights of its citizens. Hopefully, you agree that the words penned by James Ryder Randall are entirely appropriate lyrics, befitting Maryland's great historical heritage, and will stand in opposition to any attempt to replace our State song with such meaningless and trite lyrics.
Fortunately, the Legislative session has now ended, without either of the proposed bills being adopted, and Randall’s Maryland My Maryland remains as our official state song for another year. Undoubtedly, this issue will likely be raised again in next year’s Legislative session and we will once again rally in opposition to any attempts to change our beloved state song. In the words attributed to an unreconstructed Maryland Confederate soldier following the war “We’ll fight them to hell freezes over and then we will fight them on the ice”.
Terry M. Klima
2nd Lt. Commander
Maryland Division SCV