Marylander – With Pride

Whenever the topic of genealogy comes up, and people ask me where my family is from, I tell them the truth: we’re from Maryland, Southern Maryland to be exact, and we’ve been here for over 300 years.

If I’m really pressed, and I put some effort into it, I could probably place most (if not all) of my origins to places in Scotland and England.  But those places don’t mean much to me. Maryland, on the other hand, means a great deal to me and I’m proud to be a Marylander.

It bothers me when people from places like Texas, or New Orleans, or New York City, or Chicago show so much pride in their origins – yet people from Maryland hardly show any by comparison. I know people who were born and raised here, yet they look down on the state with a little bit of contempt.  This just doesn’t register with me. Being from Maryland is nothing to be ashamed of.

In fact Marylanders, people that were born here or spent a considerable amount of their formidable years or careers here, have contributed a lot to the country and their respective fields.

For instance, a year ahead of my mom in high school was Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein and actor Ben Stein (Bueller? Bueller?) was in her class.  A year behind my mom in high school was Goldie Hawn. Another year or two back was Connie Chung.  And Sylvester Stallone used to run around the neighborhood as a kid.  That’s all from one small high school in one small part of Maryland.

The best my dad managed to do was to graduate a couple of years behind current House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

And like Steny, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is also a Marylander.  That’s the number 1 and number 2 spots in the U.S. House of Representatives. So right now, as I write this, one-half of one-third of the Federal Government is being led by Marylanders.

Without Marylander Jim Henson we wouldn’t have the Muppets.  Without Marylander Tom Clancy we would never have had The Hunt for Red October. And without Marylander Matt Drudge the Drudge Report would never have existed.

Marylanders can be found throughout the pages of business, pop-culture and history.

Sergey Brin, one of the founders of Google – arguably one of the most powerful companies in the world – is a Marylander (his family emigrated here from Russia).

As are comedians Lewis Black, Wanda Sykes and Martin Lawrence.

And it was Marylander Harriet Tubman that led the Underground Railroad.

TV mothers Paula Marshall, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Julie Bowen, and Patricia Richardson are all from Maryland (and when you throw in Northern Virginia’s Lauren Graham, the greater DC-Baltimore Metro Area looks to be some kind of wellspring of attractive & funny TV mothers).

For my fellow science fiction fans, Marylanders gave us Smallville’s Lionel Luthor, the original Sarah Connor, The Punisher, STNG’s Reginald Barclay and Knight Rider – just to name a few! Even the co-creater of Smallville is from Maryland. And Wonder Woman has settled down here!

In the world of sports Marylanders are well represented as well. For example in boxing we have Sugar Ray Leonard and former heavy-weight champion Riddick Bowe.

We’re the birth place of both Babe Ruth and Cal Ripken.

Plus, Marylander Michael Phelps holds more gold medals than any other Olympian in history.

In football, both of the NFL teams that play in Maryland (the Redskins and the Ravens) are past Super Bowl champions – and Bill Belichick, the coach of the New England Patriots (the team of the decade?), is also a Marylander.

We have film makers Barry Levinson and John Waters. And we have loads of singers and musicians from across all genre’s including Lisa Loeb, Billie Holiday, Frank Zappa, Toni Braxton, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Christina Milian and both of the Madden boys from Good Charlotte.

Fight Club actor Ed Norton has a special connection to our state, his maternal grandfather James Rouse not only developed the Maryland city of Columbia (where Ed grew up), but he’s also credited with revitalizing the Baltimore Inner Harbor.

This list of contributions from notable Marylanders can go on and on, but Maryland is important for other things as well.

Over 947 movies and television shows have been filmed in Maryland (you’re welcome Hollywood).

Marylanders gave up the land for our nation’s capital (and unlike Virginia we didn’t take it back) (you’re welcome America).

And during the War of 1812, after Washington DC fell to the British it was Marylanders in Baltimore who stood their ground and helped turn the tide of war (who loves you America?).

Also, a Marylander wrote our national anthem (again, you’re welcome America).

And I don’t want to brag, but we’re smart too.

In 2008 we led the entire country in the percentage of students passing Advanced Placement (AP) examinations.  And the Washington DC – Baltimore Metro area is considered the most educated region in the country.

Within 20 miles of my house are dozens of colleges and universities including world class institutions like the University of Maryland, George Washington University, Georgetown University, American University, Catholic University, Johns Hopkins University and the United States Naval Academy.

This list doesn’t include some of the outstanding state and community colleges we have.

We’re also home to Air Force One, the National Security Agency, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The NIH actually makes us a hub of life sciences where companies and agencies are working hard to do everything from mapping the human genome to curing cancer.

Plus, for the last 19 years in a row, Johns Hopkins Hospital has been named the #1 hospital in the country.

We also have the highest percentage of knowledge workers of any state. And we have the highest median household income in the country and the lowest poverty level.

In 2007, Forbes magazine named us the 5th “Greenest” state.

Just last month Forbes listed the Baltimore- Towson metropolitan area as #5 on the list of great places for working moms.

And in May, the websites and listed the Baltimore area as the ninth-best place to live for recent college grads.

Here are the things people love about this area.

Washington DC and Baltimore – Two Great Cities – One Great Region

For big city culture, entertainment and shopping we have our choice of Washington DC or Baltimore.

And while both of these cities (and their surrounding suburbs) have very distinct identities, only about 40 miles separate the two. They are in a lot of ways one cohesive metropolitan region, and seem to become more so with each passing year.

It is increasingly easier and easier to find someone that lives near Baltimore that works in or near DC – and vice versa.

And where I live (equidistant from both) you frequently find households where one spouse works inside the DC beltway and the other works inside the Baltimore beltway.

Small Towns and Cities With Lots of Character

In addition to our two big cities, we have loads of little towns and cities each with their own special charm, colonial history and character. Including one of my favorites, Annapolis, the state capital, and home to the United States Naval Academy.

The little cities and towns built along Maryland’s fall line (places like Ellicott City/Columbia, Laurel, Potomac) are frequently listed as some of the best places to live. In fact Ellicott City/Columbia was listed as the #2 best place to live in 2010 by Money Magazine.

The Mighty Chesapeake

We also have the Chesapeake Bay. If you love anything on, in or near the water, then the Chesapeake Bay has a lot to offer. It is simply huge. And its size means it has a little something for everyone.  The total shoreline of the bay and its tributaries is 11,684 miles.

That is the same distance as going from New York City to Los Angeles. And back again.  That’s a lot of coastline where small secluded waterfront restaurants, dock bars and marinas can nestle along the wooded shores.

And the tidal shoreline of the bay is 4,431 miles. That is nearly longer than the coastlines of California, Oregon, and Washington state combined. Three times over.

The surface area of the bay is over 4400 square miles, which means there is plenty of room to enjoy your favorite water activities: fishing, crabbing, sailing, cruising, swimming, water-skiing, etc.

And the bay is practically in everyone’s backyard. Of the 23 Maryland counties, 16 border the bay or one of its tidal tributaries.

America in Miniature

Its not all about big cities, small towns and the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland has a little bit of everything.

We have beaches on the Atlantic Ocean. Our western panhandle has mountains for skiing and hiking. Our Eastern Shore, with its watermen and farmers is a culture unto itself. And in Southern Maryland you can find Amish communities scattered among the farms and ranches.

We’re part of the great northeast megalopolis, so we’re considered part of the North. But we’re south of the Mason Dixon line so we still have a bit of southern culture.

Maryland is diverse in both geography and culture and that diversity means a broad range of activities and entertainment all throughout the state.

All Four Seasons

We’re a mid-Atlantic state. We lie in the subtropics. As mentioned, we’re part north and we’re part south. All of this means we have all four seasons – sometimes in abundance.

Along with some of the worst traffic in the country, and the high cost of living, the abundance parts of summer and winter can be the hardest things to tolerate about living here.

This past winter we got hammered with mountains of snow, and it tends to happen every 7 years or so. “Crippling” is the word they use to describe these snow falls. “Oppressive” is the word they use to describe some of our summer days. It can get hot. And humid.

But that is only a few weeks each year.  The rest of the year can be storybook perfect.

Our winters are cold and crisp, like they’re supposed to be.

Our springs are wet and green and lush, like they’re supposed to be.

Our summers are hot and a little bit muggy, like they’re supposed to be.

And our autumns with their cool temperatures, nippy winds and crisp crackling leaves – are some of the best days ever.

No Place Like Home

I’ve lived in other states (Virginia, Ohio, Hawaii) and I’ve been to all four corners of the country and most of the places in between.  And I know everyone has a tendency to love where they are.

But right now, at this time of my life, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

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