TIME WILL NOT dim the glory of their deeds, nor - for the moment - will the wrecking ball.
The destruction of Memorial Stadium, originally scheduled to commence tomorrow, has been stalled by last week's vote by the state Board of Public Works - William Donald Schaefer and Richard Dixon stepping up to the plate - temporarily putting off both the old ballpark's destruction and the dismantling of the 110-foot plaque honoring the nation's war dead that was supposed to last forever.
"Time will not dim," indeed.
In Annapolis, state Comptroller Schaefer and Treasurer Dixon cast the votes to hold off tomorrow's demolition, thus ticking off City Hall and frustrating the Maryland Stadium Authority, whose only role here is to put the wrecking balls into motion.
The Stadium Authority was given this job several years back by the former governor of Maryland - the same William Donald Schaefer now saying, "Not so fast, guys."
Schaefer, speaking for a lot of people, has two concerns: What's to replace the old ballpark? And, what's to become of that war memorial out front? Pulling the $2.55 million demolition project off the Public Works agenda was Schaefer's last shot at getting better answers than he's been getting.
What's to become of the war memorial? Who knows?
Ed Cline doesn't know, and he's associate director of the Maryland Stadium Authority. Ed Hanrahan doesn't know, either. Who's he? Just the guy who first sketched out those words that open the memorial: "Time will not dim the glory of their deeds."
"It's completely up in the air," Cline was saying at week's end.
"It's so sad, isn't it?" Hanrahan was saying.
He was there when the whole thing started. It was Hanrahan's father, Dr. Edward Hanrahan Sr., a Johns Hopkins professor of plastic surgery, who planted the first seed of the idea. Go back to the earliest post-war years, when the city was talking about naming its new 33rd Street ballpark after Babe Ruth.
"Why not call it Memorial Stadium?" Dr. Hanrahan asked his son. "Change the name, and put up a plaque. Honor the boys who paid the price."
Hanrahan Jr. was in the public relations business then. He put together some of his pals, guys who'd done time overseas, and started kicking the idea around. They'd meet at Hanrahan's office or at the bar at the old Eager House Restaurant, all of them combat veterans - not only Hanrahan, who'd been with the Marines in the South Pacific, but Paul Wiedorfer, who came home from Europe with the Medal of Honor, and Danny Brewster, who'd been shot up in the assault landings on Guam and Okinawa, and Bill Boucher and Tom Bailey, who saw their own fighting, and Bill Tutton, who ran the Eager House back then.
They started to put together words to inscribe on a ballpark. Everybody imagined they'd last forever - the ballpark, maybe, but the words, absolutely. "Time will not dim the glory of their deeds" was the start of it. Hanrahan came up with those. One time at the Eager House bar, he read them aloud to the guys.
Honor the boys who paid the price.
Then they went for a final assault landing - on City Hall.
Brewster, who later went to Capitol Hill, remembers it. So does Hanrahan. Tommy D'Alesandro the elder was mayor then, and about 10 of the guys paid him a visit one day.
"We said, `We want to name the ballpark after the fellas we left behind on the battlefields,'" Brewster said last week. "Otherwise, we'll have 50,000 veterans demonstrating in front of City Hall."
"And it was remarkable," Hanrahan said. "We handed Tommy a resolution, and he signed it. It took 30 seconds for him to agree. Things apparently don't happen that quickly anymore."
It's nearly a decade since the Orioles left Memorial Stadium, and three years since the Ravens left. And still, nobody knows what to do with that plaque - or with the ballpark property.
The Baltimore City Council voted unanimously for a senior citizen housing project there. That idea turns off not only Schaefer but a lot of people. Across the street from the stadium, the Johns Hopkins University is developing the old Eastern High School. Next door is City College. That stretch of 33rd Street is one of the most beautiful boulevards in town.
Can we not find something more vital, more energetic - more in tune with a great university and a great high school next door, and the residential neighborhoods surrounding it - than an old-age home? What a fabulous location, say, for Hopkins to add to its Homewood campus.
As for the plaque, that's another concern - of Schaefer's and many other people.
"How do you get rid of a memorial to the war dead?" Ed Hanrahan asked. "We don't tear down statues, do we?"
"Nobody wants to lose that memory," Ed Cline said. "But beyond that, nobody knows specifically what should be done."
At 110 feet tall, the plaque rises higher than the warehouse at Oriole Park - too large to prop against it. Also, it's too large to prop up with supports - unless another $1.5 million to $2 million were to be spent constructing those supports. Cal Ripken has reportedly expressed interest in the plaque for his new ballpark in Aberdeen.
There's also this thought: Could the words be preserved - on a somewhat smaller plaque, still prominently displayed? No one wants to destroy the sentiment. But nobody knows the best way to preserve it.
And so Memorial Stadium - and the community around it - continue to wait.