Commemorating Our Nation’s Independence

New Americans

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, July 2, 205

As we commemorate our nation’s independence this 4th of July weekend, we should honor our city’s rich history, our proud present, and our promising future.

This year Baltimore will come together to celebrate the bicentennial of Baltimore’s Washington Monument, the nation’s first monument dedicated to George Washington. The Mount Vernon Place Conservancy has worked around the clock to complete this $5.5 million dollar restoration—and their timing could not be any better. On Saturday, Baltimore is hosting a reopening of our Washington Monument that includes the official re-dedication at 10:45 a.m., and a day of family-friendly activities, crafts, games and more. Of course, admission is free, so please join us for the Monumental Bicentennial Celebration on Saturday, July 4th, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in historic Mount Vernon.

Here in Baltimore, we are so proud of our rich history. For over 200 years, men and women from across the world have traveled to Baltimore—and chosen to make it their home. They have built businesses, raised their families, and provided an innovative spirit that has spurred growth all over our city. And I am proud to say that Baltimore continues to be a welcoming home to New Americans.

Last week, I had the opportunity to join an inspiring group of immigrants when they took their oaths of citizenship and became naturalized citizens of the United States. They see Baltimore as a beacon of hope: a place where an aspiring student can attend some of the most well respected institutions in the country; a place where anyone can find a job thanks to our booming businesses; and a place where you can buy a home and grow a family. And as Baltimore continues to be a place of opportunity and prosperity for immigrants, it is imperative that we continue to support those shaping our city.

We have long celebrated a vibrant and growing LGBT community in Baltimore City.  Personally, I have always been an avid supporter of the LGBT community and a champion for equal rights— in every community. And I was beyond elated to officiate the City’s first official same-sex marriages at midnight on New Year’s Day 2013. It was beautiful, amazing, and loving, and it gave me a sense of pride knowing that same-sex couples, including one of my staff members and his significant other, were able to be married legally. It was an historic moment in my career that I will always cherish.

It is absolutely vital for the LGBT community to know that they have the support of their government and political leaders, who took an oath to defend the rights and freedoms of every citizen. So I was elated by the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling affirming that marriage equality will remain the law of the land. Marriage equality ensures that our LGBT brothers and sisters can express their love in the same way as everyone else. And I applaud the Supreme Court for agreeing that “Love is Love.”

So as we celebrate with our families this Fourth of July weekend, let us take a moment to honor our past, celebrate our present, and look forward to building stronger communities together.

Have a very happy Fourth of July, Baltimore!

This originally appeared in the Rawlings-Blake Review. If you do not receive the Mayor's weekly newsletter, subscribe here.

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