Several years ago, after asking a group of school children touring our nation’s Capitol what Memorial Day meant to them and getting the response, “That’s the day the pools open,” a distraught Carmella LaSpada knew she needed to do something. She needed to start a mission.
So LaSpada, founder of No Greater Love, an organization devoted to promoting the true meaning of Memorial Day, contacted Harford County Del. B. Dan Riley for help with her mission. That mission, quite simply, is get people to remember Memorial Day. Here is a description of the organization from the No Greater Love web site:
Founded in 1971, NGL is the only humanitarian, educational, non-profit organization in the United States solely dedicated to providing annual programs of friendship and care for those who lost a loved one in the service to our country or by an act of terrorism.
In response to her request, Riley headed to Annapolis and put together House Bill 111 during the 2000 General Assembly. Here is a synopsis of the bill:
REQUIRING THE GOVERNOR TO EACH YEAR ISSUE A PROCLAMATION ENCOURAGING THE CITIZENS OF MARYLAND AND SPECIFIED ENTITIES TO OBERVE A MOMENT OF SILENCE AT 3 P.M. ON MEMORIAL DAY TO UNITE IN REMEMBERANCE AND COMMEMORATE THE ACTS AND EFFORTS OF MARYLANDERS WHO HAVE SERVED AND DIED IN THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
The bill, which was co-sponsored by fellow Harford County delegates Joanne Parrott, Chuck Boutin, Barry Glassman and Mary-Dulany James as well as state senators Bob Hooper, Nancy Jacobs and Andy Harris, had little trouble moving through the legislative process.
Riley said this week he was “greatly moved when House Bill 111, became the first bill of the new millennium to pass the Maryland General Assembly.” He also was proud to relay that Maryland was the first state in the nation to pass a bill of this nature.
But the goodwill ended there. Like so many other pieces of well-intentioned legislation, the Memorial Day Moment of Silence was quickly shelved and forgotten about after its passage through the Maryland General Assembly.
Now, eight years later, Riley said none of the three governors who have held office since the bill’s passage, Gov. Parris Glendening, Bob Ehrlich and Martin O’Malley, have bothered to follow through with its mandate for a proclamation and moment of silence on Memorial Day.
“But I must also announce, with great sadness, that Governors Glendening, Ehrlich, and O’Malley have not bothered to publicly issue this proclamation,” Riley told The Dagger.
“So it is that I request you to take it upon yourself and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our way of life. God bless America, and the men and women who serve in our armed forces,” he continued.
Maybe Gov. O’Malley indeed has plans to issue a proclamation and observe a moment of silence this Memorial Day, but it sure can’t hurt to REMIND HIM.
And if the state government fails again to officially acknowledge Riley’s House Bill 111, we can each do our own part to help the mission – not by skipping the swimming pool or foregoing the backyard cookout this holiday weekend – but by stopping for just a moment to remember Memorial Day and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.