Remarks on Acceptance of Civil War Centennial Award (Executive Records, Governor J. Millard Tawes, 1959-1967, p. 377-379)

“Remarks on Acceptance of Civil War Centennial Award”, Executive Records, Governor J. Millard Tawes, 1959-1967, p. 377-379 Maryland State Archives.


Annapolis November 11, 1961

It is difficult to find words to express the feeling of appreciation I have tor the high honor I have received here today. I accept this medallion of the National Civil War Centennial Commission with deep gratitude, of course, but in awareness that credit for whatever we have accomplished here in Maryland in commemorating the Civil War era must go to the men and women who comprise our Maryland Civil War Centennial Commission.

We in Maryland are pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this celebration of the one-hundredth anniversary of the great conflict. We are pleased to receive this recognition for what we have done during this first year of the commemoration period. We are determined to go forward during the remainder of the period to achieve the high objectives of the centennial—to honor the courage and the devotion of our ancestors who fought in this war between the states of our Union.

The five years, 1861 to 1865, is the most tragic era in the history of our Republic. The deep tragedy lies in the fact that it was a fratricidal war—a struggle between countryman and countryman, between brother and brother. Maryland, being a border State, torn between a deep affection for the South and a strong bond with the union, suffered more than most states in the terrible conflict.

It would be a gross mistake to conclude that the men who gave their lives for causes now vanished, died in vain. For the Civil War settled once and for all the question of the unity of the states in our federal system. As a result of the war, the separation of one region of our land from another is no longer conceivable to an American.It was a terrible price that was paid, as we all know, for the settlement of an issue, but none of us today doubts that the unity we enjoy was worth that price. And so, it is fitting that we who have inherited the benefits of the strife pay tribute to our forebears who made the sacrifices and honor the devotion, the courage and the faith of the valiant men who fought in this war.

Let me here commend the members of our Maryland Civil War Centennial Commission for pursuing the true objectives of this centennial commemoration—of honoring the men who fought and died for principles which they thought to be right. What we have done, what we are doing and what we shall do in this commemoration will give all of us a better understanding of the glories and the horrors of this internal conflict and a deeper appreciation of the re-united nation that emerged from it. For myself, let me say that I have enjoyed taking a part in the events which have been staged during this first year of our centennial here in Maryland. All of us who attended it were deeply moved and profoundly impressed by the religious services held in the chapel of the Naval Academy which officially opened the commemoration period.

I was in Frederick for the re-enactment of the “Secession Legislature, “ commemorating the transfer of our General Assembly from Annapolis to Frederick because of the military occupation of our capital city. I had the honor of apologizing to the Governor of Massachusetts for the stoning of the men of the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment by Baltimoreans in the “Baltimore Riots” of April 19, 1861, which apology was graciously accepted by Governor Volpe. I attended the dress parade of Naval Academy midshipmen commemorating a parade of 1861 in which the personnel of the Academy was so drastically reduced as a result of resignations of many of those from seceding states to join the ranks of the Confederacy. And I was at Hagerstown when thousands of people gathered for the rededication of the sentimentally neglected Confederate cemetery.

I expect to attend as many as possible of the events which have been scheduled for the remainder of the commemoration period. And may I here extend a cordial invitation to the people from all parts of the country to attend the commemoration of Civil War events of our State, and in particular the re-enactment of the great battles of Antietam and South Mountain.

Once again, let me express my sincere gratitude to the National Civil War Centennial Commission for the high honor I have received here today. With deep appreciation, I accept this medallion on behalf of the members of our Maryland Civil War Centennial Commission and all the others who have worked to make this centennial observance a success. It is an inspiration to all of us to continue in our purpose to bring honor to the heroes of the past, to reaffirm the principles for which they lived and died and to rededicate ourselves to the causes of the great country in which we live.