To Senator Dyson, thank you very very much… and to all of you who are here tonight. I was so very, very honored and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your invitation and your honor to be here with all of you. Because, for this reason, first and foremost, I believe that you are really the key to awakening a broader awareness among the entire body politic, all of your neighbors in the state of Maryland, as to the tremendous opportunity we have as Marylanders… really to reignite that awareness about what conservation is.
Especially now, I really want to thank you for what you do. The newsletters that you send out, all of the things that you do to make us all understand as Marylanders that our tomorrow can be better than our todays.
To President Miller it is an honor to be with you today, this evening, President Miller, I’m glad the rumors of your early retirement were greatly exaggerated.
It’s terrific to be with you, and John Astle, and to Bill Miles, to Jeff Crane, to Delegate Weldon, who wasn’t able to be here tonight, he was called away by other business, but he’s here in spirit. Also, my dear friend Frank Kratovil from the Eastern Shore…Any Eastern Shore people here tonight?
And to everyone at the Caucus and the Foundation, thank you not only for this recognition, but thank you for what you do to make our One Maryland strong.
Sportsmen, as you well know, contribute more than a billion and a half dollars to our State’s economy. Your help in managing our wildlife population… what you do to bring tourists to our state… you fund important conservation and habitat programs… you provide a strong, important voice for conservation.
But most importantly, I believe, that Maryland’s outdoorsmen that are rightly referred to as the original conservationists.
Teddy Roosevelt said that “our duty to the whole, including the unborn generations,” listen to this, “bids us restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations.” The heritage of these unborn generations… that’s really what brought us here tonight.
It’s that obligation, it’s that sense of blessing that we feel when we’re out alone in the woods, that God has given us something as individuals, that is precious, that is divine, and it is our individual gift, but we have to preserve it, in order to pass it on to future generations… the heritage of these unborn generations.
From our earliest days as a people, you know, we have always understood that as Marylanders. Look at our seal, the plowman and the fisherman together, it speaks to the fact that we understand we’re all in this together. We understand, not only how much we rely upon nature, but how much we rely upon each other to preserve it, and pass it on to the future.
And it’s because of that connection that we feel for those who have come before us, and for those who will come after us… it’s because of the values that we share that we choose to summon our higher angels… and I really think throughout our history we’ve seen better days, we choose to practice the politics of posterity. I mean that’s why farmers and hunters feeding the hungry, that’s why you were founded. It wasn’t for yourselves, it wasn’t for the here and now, it wasn’t even for your neighbors, although that is a noble cause as well, it’s really about the future.
The politics of posterity, the politics that calls on each of us to set aside partisanship and personal differences and instead focus on those things that really unites us. And you know what, there is not another cause that unites us more profoundly than the cause of preserving the natural beauty that is this great State and this country. It is because of the more sustainable future that all of us prefer that we understand that we shouldn’t squander open space dollars… that we should preserve habitat… that we should expand areas where we can actually go and hunt and enjoy the beauty of this state.
It’s because of that more sustainable future that we prefer, that we would upgrade the Critical Areas Laws… that we would invest the Chesapeake Bay 2010 Fund that Senator Dyson mentioned. It’s because of that more sustainable future that we created the Fisheries Management Task Force and the Oyster Advisory Committee… it’s because of that more sustainable future that even when it’s really difficult in the here and now, that we come together to find ways that we can bring back the Blue Crab population, so we’re not the last generation to enjoy them.
And you know what, Teddy Roosevelt was right… he was right then and he is right now. There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country. We’ve come together and made progress because we all believe that, and we may disagree with each other from time to time. You know the path of human progress kind of zigs and zags doesn’t it, but always moving forward.
Some of the happiest days of my childhood were spent with my Dad and my brothers walking alone in the woods of the Eastern Shore, walking along the banks of the Chopktank, in that beautiful part of our state where the eagle and osprey lie near the face of God. And those are some of the happiest moments I’ve spent with my own sons.
We have been given so very, very much, and it is under us all, we cannot allow ourselves ever to become part of the minority of the present. We are great revolutionary people, we’ve inherited much. And so long as I have the privilege and the blessing and the honor of serving all of you I’m going to work together with you, so that we fulfill the highest responsibilities we have as citizens, as Marylanders as Americans. And that we pass it on to our kids in a better condition than we received it ourselves from our parents…God bless you all, Thank you.