March 30, 2010
I want to thank all of the families of those who we lost for the solemn honor of allowing me to join you today to pay tribute to your loved ones who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their communities, for their country.
And we also give our thanks to those of you who are here today who have answered the noble call and serving your fellow citizens in your country. The dedication and courage you show every day is critical to keeping our people safe. You are part of a noble, revolutionary history that continues here in Maryland – a history that is full of brave men and brave women who stood up and led the way, not in times that were easy but in times that were hard, in the face of adversity, no matter what the obstacles were that faced them.
Honoring 18 Men and Women of Courage
That brave revolutionary spirit was strong within the 18 men and women that we are honoring today – men and women who gave their lives to defend the public safety. For these courageous, selfless Marylanders, we feel a tremendous sense of gratitude, and also much grief and sorrow. Their time on this earth was shorter than it should have been, and it is so hard to make sense of our loss or lessen our pain. It has been said that what we have once enjoyed we can never lose for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.
As we remember those brave men and women who have sacrificed themselves for the safety of their fellow citizens, we also remember the things that we loved about each of them. The ways that they made us laugh and rejoice, and of course, the incredible good that they brought to their friends and their families who needed them and the good that they brought to our world through the work of courageous service that they did every single day.
The poet Marge Piercy writes that “the pigeon cries for water to carry, and a person for work that is real.” For work that is real. For these 18 men and women that we are honoring here today, the work was as real as it gets.
And they knew how tough, and they knew how demanding the work would be. But instead of stepping aside or leaving the work to someone else, they stood up, they volunteered. They took on that grave and sacred duty of protecting their neighbors. And when they answered the call, they did not ask if the person in need was black or white, or rich or poor, or Jewish or Christian or Muslim. They simply asked, who needs me? And they answered that call.
For that noble service, we can never express enough gratitude. The 18 men and women we honor today were dedicated defenders of the greater good that we share as a community. Their work reminds all of us of our shared humanity and of the belief that we share that there is more that unites us than divides us.
To all of the families of these brave Marylanders that we’ve lost in the last year, on behalf of Lt. Gov. Brown, and really on behalf of all the citizens that they loved so much that they served, all of whom hope you feel their comfort here today in some small way.
The people of our state thank you for your sacrifice, for having the willingness and courage to come here today for one another, even when your loss and hurt are still so very, very fresh. We can never make that hurt go away, but I hope if only for a brief moment today that your burden might be lightened by the love and compassion that the people here, that the people throughout the state of Maryland, have for you, have for the brave people that we have lost.
The poet writes, “Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in the face of them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it. Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved, but hope for the patience to win my freedom.” I thank all of you again for being here and for raising such beautiful people who have given their all in service to the rest of us. May God bless you and may God bless the United States of America.