One of the things I have been doing as part of my State Celebrations, that I have not blogged about before, is reading the essays in the bestselling book State by State edited by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey. This collection has one essay from each state, with each written by a different author. When I read Maryland's entry, by Myla Goldberg, I was stunned at how her experience looking back at growing up in Maryland reflected my own. Like Ms. Goldberg, I grew up in the suburbs near Baltimore and Washington, D.C. But what struck me the most was that she wrote about not realizing that the Maryland state song, "Maryland! My Maryland!", is a actually a civil war era confederate lament, with lines like "She spurns the Northern scum". A few years ago my husband and I decided to celebrate Maryland Day for the first time (the impetus for this project) and for the first time I looked up the words to the State song. Well, who knew? In school we only ever heard the tune of the song (which is the same as "Oh Christmas Tree"). No one is ever taught the words. Small wonder. Maryland seems to be a bit touchy about its role in the Civil War. In history class we are taught that while we are south of the Mason-Dixon line, Maryland really fought on the Union side. While this is all true, there is much more to the story than what they taught us in 8th grade. There have been movements to change the state song. So far, no dice. This NPR story tells of a recent attempt by some schoolchildren to get the song changed. Perhaps they are finally teaching kids the words.
Joni Eareckson was a name I knew growing up. I remember seeing information about her, and her artwork when I was young. Joni graduated from Woodlawn Sr. High school in 1967 (15 years ahead of me) and that summer was injured in a diving accident which left her unable to move her legs and with limited mobility in her arms. By learning to hold pens and brushes in her mouth she became an accomplished artist. The movie Joni tells her story from the time of her accident through 1979, when she began speaking about her spirtual awakening in the aftermath of the tragedy. The movie stars Ms. Eareckson as herself. This movie opened in Baltimore in 1979, and I remember that my sister was there. As a member of The Woodlawn Sr. High Madrigal Choir, she was invited to sing at the premier. I also remember that she was then asked to review to movie for the school paper, the Calumet, and she really resisted doing it. Because she did not much like the movie, she probably felt that she was put in an awkward position. She did end up writing the review and I recall that she said she said she was "disappointed" that so much of the movie focused on Joni's spirtiual journey, rather than her recovery and artwork. We unchurched Hayes kids didn't cotton much to spirtual things. I had not seen the the movie myself until last week, and while I can say that the story is undoubtably inspirational, I agree with my sister that it is not a very good film. I cannot say I was disappointed, though. My sister's reveiw told me exactly what to expect. More information about Joni Eareckson Tada can be found at: