For a day, the “Greatest Generation” will be honored in Calvert County and I was proud to be there to join in festivities that will conclude with the official unveiling of the “On Watch” Statue. (Aug. 11, Calvert Marine Museum)
This has been a labor of love and great respect for me, other elected officials and numerous individual, corporate and non-profit donors which came together to honor this generation which saved the world from the double tyranny of the German and Japanese threat to our democracy during World War II.
In 2005, at the request of Commissioner Kelley, I sponsored Senate Bill 982 in the amount of $50,000 to support this project. The bill went towards the creation of an impressive eight-foot tall bronze statute of a sailor gripping a pair of goggles standing “On Watch” for a potential enemy threat. Overall, the entire grounds of the monument honor the troops who trained at the Amphibious Training Base located in Solomons, MD during World War II.
The bond bill was just one of many ways this $134,000 project was funded. Contributions included $29,418 in private donations, $5,000 from the Calvert County Commissioners, $20,000 from the Calvert Marina LLC, $31,300 in brick sales, $15,000 from the Koenig Foundation, $5,000 from Dominion Energy and $3,000 from the Landing Craft Infantry.
Very few people knew about this project before the Calvert Marine Museum Society, the Calvert Commissioners – especially Commissioner Kelley — the Calvert Marina and the General Assembly decided to make people aware of its enormous historical significance to our country during a very dangerous and frightening time.
From 1942-1945, more than 68,000 sailors, Marines, members of the Coast Guard and soldiers trained here for hazardous duty they faced in both the European and Pacific Theatres of War. These places included North Africa, Guadalcanal, Anzio, Iwo Jima and Normandy among others. According to the Calvert Marine Museum, 10,150 men who trained at the base were on fleets in either the Pacific or Atlantic oceans.
I have a small bronzed replica of the “On Watch” statue in my office in Annapolis of which I am very proud to display. This replica statue was given to me by Karen Stone former Curator for Education at the Calvert Marine Museum. Karen originated the idea of the statue and grounds.
When constituents ask me why I display the replica of the “On Watch” statue in my office, I explain it represents one of the finest proposed – now fully completely – memorials in the State of Maryland.
The event’s coordinators expected more than 300 people at the event, many of them former WWII veterans who will probably be visiting their last major event honoring their amazing accomplishments of beating back the Nazi and Japanese regimes on two different fronts.
So, I was obviously very proud to be a part of this ceremony and for helping the Calvert Marine Museum procure a good deal of funding for what will certainly be one of not just Southern Maryland, but all of Maryland’s most outstanding memorials.