The nation’s future is guaranteed by the sacrifices of the men and women in uniform who are willing to defend it.
That was the message Gov. Martin O’Malley shared with an audience of 1,150 people during the installation’s Memorial Day Remembrance and 26th Annual Massing of the Colors on May 6 at the Fort Meade Pavilion.
“We are fortunate to have been born into the strongest and freest republic ever created,” O’Malley said. “But its tomorrows, its future, is never inevitable. Its future is secured by the men and women who are willing to step up — not in times that are easy, not when in their own personal circumstances it’s easy, but when times are difficult.”
The 90-minute event, hosted by the garrison and the Gen. George G. Meade Chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars (MOWW), featured a performance by the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps from the Military District of Washington (MDW), a reading of the preamble to the constitution of the MOWW and a free concert by the U.S. Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus.
During the massing, the MDW Armed Forces Guard and more than 45 military, civic and youth organizations presented their respective colors.
“I think it was wonderful,” said Col. Jeffrey Mascoll of the 200th Military Police Command. “I have never been to a Massing of the Colors and Memorial Day celebration before. It was great. The governor’s remarks were right on point.”
In his introduction of the governor, Garrison Commander Col. Edward Rothstein acknowledged O’Malley’s commitment to Fort Meade during the implementation of the Base Realignment and Closure process and his signing of the Fort Meade Community Covenant in November 2011.
The covenant, Rothstein said, represents “the promise of key partners based on trust and cooperation, a promise that could not be kept without [O’Malley’s] leadership and dedication to our service men and women and their families.”
In his remarks, O’Malley thanked the nation’s veterans and active-duty service members.
“Our country is only as strong as the men and women who are willing to step up in the present to defend the future and, when it is necessary, fight for her future,” he said.
The governor also spoke about the upcoming bicentennial celebration of the War of 1812, fought between the United States and Great Britain from 1812 to 1815.
The Battle of Baltimore began Sept. 13, 1814, when Maryland militia withstood a 25-hour bombardment by British naval forces at North Point.
O’Malley reflected upon the courage and commitment of citizens and citizen soldiers who came together during the battle “in that deepest, most patriotic sense, the deepest, most patriotic love — the love of one’s home, of one’s neighbors, of one’s city.”
Throughout the bombardment, all of Baltimore’s lights were extinguished. The only light was from the exploding shells that lit up an enormous American flag still flying over Fort McHenry on the morning of Sept. 14.
“The thread that held that flag together was the thread of human dignity,” O’Malley said, “the dignity of home, the dignity of country and the dignity of the individual.”
The governor said the freedoms that Americans enjoy are not free.
“Previous generations have fought, have worked, have invested, have died for the quality of life that we enjoy — and it is not something that we should ever take for granted,” O’Malley said.
“Our men and women in uniform do not take it for granted. They are the core of what makes us the strong, compassionate, caring, growing and generous country that we are, the country that we are going to be proud to give to the next generation to carry forward.”
Among those who attended were 16 Boy Scouts from Troop 1299, of Baltimore, who camped Saturday night at the installation’s RV park. The event was the first time the troop attended a Massing of the Colors.
“I hope they get an appreciation for Memorial Day and get exposure to the diversity of military and civic organizations that they have here,” Scout leader Sidney White said. “Maybe this will inspire them to join the military.”
Boy Scout David Lee, who attends the Talmudical Academy of Baltimore, said he was inspired by the ceremony. “I liked everything about it,” the 14-year-old said. “It’s a great way to acknowledge all the people who are still serving us today.”
Briana Scott, 15, a sophomore at Frederick Douglass High School in Upper Marlboro, said the event was memorable. “We all came together and brought to light how many were dedicated and put their lives on the line for our country,” said Scott, a member of the high school’s Navy Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps who helped post its colors. “It was a good experience.”
The installation’s Memorial Day Remembrance and Massing of the Colors is just one of many events held on Fort Meade that are open to the public. See the Summer Events Calendar for more opportunities to visit Fort Meade.
Lisa Rhodes is a reporter for Soundoff. She can be contacted at 301-677-1432 and firstname.lastname@example.org.