Over 200 guests gathered on Saturday, March 25, 2023, for the annual Maryland Day celebration hosted by the Historic St. Mary’s City Commission. The ceremony, held on the museum grounds, featured a range of speakers, performances, and awards honoring those who have contributed to the preservation of Maryland’s history.
The event began with opening remarks from Rear Admiral Tim Heely, USN (retired), Chairman of the Historic St. Mary’s City Commission. The N.A.S. Patuxent River Color Guard and St. Maries Citty Militia, a volunteer organization gave a presentation of the colors. The Southern Maryland Community Gospel Choir and St. Peter Claver Gospel Choir performed the National Anthem and a musical selection later in the ceremony.
Piscataway Tribal Chair Francis Gray also spoke at the event, offering a welcoming address emphasizing the importance of viewing history from different perspectives. Gray spoke of “inverting the narrative” in history and looking at it through “Piscataway eyes” rather than a colonial lens.
Lucille Walker, Executive Director of the newly named Southern Maryland National Heritage Area, gave comments showing her enthusiasm and passion for the diverse history of St. Mary’s County and its national importance. State Senator Jack Bailey bestowed three commendations to HSMC’s former Executive Director Regina Faden Ph.D. for her dedication to the museum. Faden took the stage for her well-deserved honors.
The museum’s highest honor, the Cross Bottony, was awarded to two individuals who volunteered countless hours. Jane Kostenko and Tyler Bell took the stage to accept the award, graciously thanking all those they have met and looking forward to the next generation of volunteers.
The keynote address for the afternoon was delivered by St. Mary’s College of Maryland President Tuajuanda Jordan, Ph.D. Dr. Jordan spoke about the importance of how to tell history and how spaces in St. Mary’s County, including Historic Sotterley, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and Historic St. Mary’s City, are working to ensure a fuller story is told. Dr. Jordan’s speech gained applause and agreement from the crowd as she stated Maryland Day “provides the very real opportunity to reflect on and commemorate how we got here.”
The ceremony of the flags marked the conclusion of the event, where students from around Maryland paraded their county flags across the front of the stage. St. Michael’s School in Ridge supplied volunteer students to fill in for those who couldn’t participate due to distance.
The podium and reception for the Cross Bottony award winners were adorned with Maryland colors, thanks to arrangements from Irvanette Hall and David’s Flowers. Reception guests were offered food thanks to the caterer Bon Appetit.
Overall, the event was a celebration of Maryland’s rich history and those who work tirelessly to preserve it. The Historic St. Mary’s City Commission and its partners showcased the importance of understanding history from diverse perspectives, and the awards presented honored those who have contributed to the preservation of Maryland’s past.