ANNAPOLIS – “Maryland, My Maryland,” the state song which “spurns the Northern scum,” stings the legislators, too, even if some don’t know the words.
“Actually, I really have never paid a lot of attention to the words,” said Delegate Pamela Beidle, D-Anne Arundel, who introduced a bill Friday in the House to change the lyrics of the state song to pay tribute to Maryland rather than express “Confederate sympathies.”
She said letters of protest from fourth grade students at Glen Burnie Park Elementary School opened her eyes to the song’s bias.
The lyrics are from a poem written by James Ryder Randall in Louisiana in 1861 called “Maryland, My. Maryland,” and convey anger at Union troops marching in Baltimore.
Beidle hopes to change the lyrics to a poem of the same name written 33 years later by John T. White, a Frederick County native and former superintendent of Maryland Schools.
White’s poem talks of “wooded hills” and “brave souls,” as opposed to Randall’s “despot’s heel” and “Huzza!”
But the latest attempt to change the state song is not as drastic as it seems. Beidle wants the tune — “O Tannenbaum” by Lauriger Horatius — to remain the same.
People who never knew the words would still be able to hum along to a song they know better as “O Christmas Tree.”
“I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember the lyrics to it very well,” said Anne Garside, director of communications for the Maryland Historical Society.
Garside said that despite having little knowledge of what the song says she would be open to “changing any language (of an official anthem) that doesn’t reflect our current inclusive attitudes.”
Delegate Mary Ann Love, D-Anne Arundel, agrees the lyrics aren’t “attuned” to the attitudes of the day, even though she too, isn’t quite sure what the lyrics say.
“I’m standing here reading the lyrics right now,” she said. “It is a historic song, but looking at (the lyrics), they are pretty harsh.”
But not as harsh as pushing history aside for political correctness, said the president general of the Daughters of the Confederacy.
“I hate it when parts of our history are pushed aside for political correctness,” said Jane Durden. “Sometimes change is not good.”
Change is what we need, said Delegate Jolene Ivey, D-Prince George’s, another sponsor of the bill.
“As a state, we’ve moved on from glorifying the Confederacy, don’t you think?”
If the words to the song aren’t changed, Ivey said, “People will never sing it.”