About-face by Miller on revising Md. song

March 25, 2009|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,julie.bykowicz@baltsun.com

The Senate president - a huge history buff - made a startling announcement Tuesday, the eve of the celebration of Maryland's 375th birthday. Thomas V. Mike Miller said the time has come to change the state song.

Breaking with his past unfailing support of maintaining "Maryland, My Maryland" the way it is, despite its decidedly pro-Confederate slant, Miller told lawmakers that they should at least change "a couple of stanzas" of the song.

The final stanza of James Ryder Randall's 1861 poem, later set to the tune of "O Tannenbaum" and adopted in 1939 as the state song, is particularly inflammatory: "She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb - / Huzza! She spurns the Northern scum! / She breathes! She burns! She'll come! She'll come! / Maryland! My Maryland!"

"Even I agree there need to be some adjustments made," Miller told senators in an off-the-cuff speech as session ended Tuesday afternoon.

While a Senate committee is considering the move, a House panel has voted against similar legislation. When Miller told senators that Wednesday is Maryland Day, Sen. Jennie Forehand of Montgomery County rose to ask - tongue in cheek - whether they might be able to sing the state song to celebrate.

Miller shot a look at Forehand, sponsor of a bill to change the lyrics, and grumbled, "Sure." Then he added: "You can sing the last verse, Senator."

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