It's wonderful to be here with all of you. I want to thank Kathleen McDonagh, and all of those who take such pride in remembering our history and the lessons that we still have to teach our children and grandchildren, about what it means to be an American. About what it means to care enough for your country that you are willing even to give your life for your country and for generations that you will never ever be able to meet.
We are joined by a number of people in our Maryland delegation. Candice Quinn Kelly, the president of the commissioners, and Commissioner Robinson, who represent the people of Charles County, Maryland. Charles County was where General Smallwood--or Colonel Smallwood when he came here with the Maryland 400--was born and where his home still stands today.
We're also joined by the longest-serving, and I think the best, Senate President in these United States. He loves Maryland history and takes great pride in what Maryland has contributed to our nation. Senate President Mike Miller, thank you for being here.
We're also joined by a number of other Marylanders, and they are the Marylanders who have inherited that legacy, who share that lineage of the Maryland 400. They're the men of the 5th Regiment and the men of the 29th Infantry Division.
It is a great honor to be here in their company and the company of all of the veterans who are here today at this important place.
At critical times in our country's history it has been Maryland's duty, and Maryland's place, to stand up. Not because times were easy, but because they were hard. To stand up and take the center, not only of these 13 colonies geographically, but the center of this new and emerging country.
That was true at the birth of the Star Spangled Banner and the defense of Baltimore almost 200 years ago, and it was also true here. Here, at the Battle of Brooklyn.
As the envelope of the British Army and the Hessian mercenaries closed in around General Washington, there was only one regiment on the American side that had been equipped with bayonets.
They were the Maryland 400.
They had been drawn from some of the leading families throughout our State. They mustered in Annapolis and were equipped with bayonets provided by the Worcester county commissioners.
Little did they know when they marched out of Annapolis that day how critically important those 400 bayonets would be to the survival of this infant republic.
As the British closed in around Washington, the order went up and down the Maryland line. Facing overwhelming odds and knowing full well that they were not likely to prevail, the order came to fix bayonets.
The Marylanders moved forward.
Twice they charged, and managed to buy Washington's Army enough time to be able to fight another day.
Two hundred and fifty-six of those Marylanders are still yours today. Their bodies lay buried not far from here, not far from where they fell.
We celebrate what they did, not because a victory was won here on that day, but because the sacrifice was made that would allow ultimate victory.
One of the most important things we teach our children as Americans, is that the more we give to our country, the more she gives back to us. And that was the faith that gripped the hearts of these Marylanders, no doubt, as they charged repeatedly and saw one another being cut down.
When they came to you from our State capital of Annapolis, they carried with them also a proclamation from our Revolutionary governor and the Maryland General Assembly. It began with these words: "We can show no greater affection for the people of New York than to send you our best."
May God bless you and the spirit of the Maryland 400, and all Americans who love their country dearly enough to put themselves deliberately in harm's way. Thank you.