From Texas: A big hug to a friendly city

July 01, 2011

I am so glad that I had the chance to not only visit but also tour and get to know your wonderful city when I attended the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Baltimore recently. As I said to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the hospitality she extended to each and every mayor was only surpassed by that of the hospitality from the citizens of Baltimore.

I am familiar with Baltimore's slogan of being "Charm City," and your residents more than lived up to it. And I am not just talking about the wonderful volunteers in their snappy blue shirts. We were also enthusiastically welcomed by Baltimore citizens wherever we visited, including areas of the city that were not "officially" part of the conference. The smiles and the friendly greetings of "Welcome," or "Hello," and, what I understand to be Baltimore's term of affection, "Hon," were showered on us over and over again.

The program that you and your team assembled for the mayors was more than impressive. But the icing on the cake was the warmth with which the city of Baltimore embraced us. In Spanish, a traditional salutation is un fuerte abrazo ("a big hug"). My time in Baltimore felt exactly that way as the citizens so warmly embraced us.

Raul G. Salinas

The writer is mayor of Laredo, Texas.

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