Mayor Martin O'Malley
City Hall, Baltimore, Maryland
December 7, 1999
Today, Baltimore celebrates a new beginning. Today, we stand on the
threshold of a great opportunity. Today, we have the chance to renew
our city. For as Teddy Roosevelt once, said: "Far and away, the best
prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."
With hope and optimism, we look ahead, asking ourselves: What do we
want for our city? What is it about this place that makes it a place
worth fighting for? And what would we do as a city, if we knew we could
"Today," as Martin Luther King once said, "the battle is in our hands."
Our potential as a people is limited only by our trust in the goodness
of one another, and our willingness to sacrifice to move our city
Forward - with a new sense of urgency to the noble work of city
Forward - so you don't fight City Hall, City Hall fights for you.
Forward - so the children of Cherry Hill, Rose and Ashland, and Penn
North are as safe as the children of Guilford, Roland Park and
Forward - so that Baltimore is once again renowned for the life and
diversity of our city markets and not for the death and despair of our
open-air drug markets.
What do we want for our city?
"If I have seen further," a great man once said, "It is by standing on
the shoulders of giants."
As we celebrate this democratic transition on December 7th, we also
remember the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, and the sacrifices and
contributions of the giants of my parents' generation.
Across this plaza, stands a memorial to the giants who sacrificed their
lives in the First War to end all wars. In our monumental city, we
remember the sacrifices of the giants of Korea and Vietnam, and the
sacrifices of fallen Baltimore City police officers and their families.
Behind this City Hall, our courthouse bears the name of Clarence J.
Mitchell, Jr., who, along with Thurgood Marshall and others of their
generation, made their own sacrifice - waging a different kind of war
for the hearts and minds of their countrymen.
Still others who came of age during the depression and war years led
less public lives, but quietly helped build our city. They made
Baltimore's neighborhoods a source of pride. They worked hard to
support their families. They raised their children to know the
difference between right and wrong.
Did they sacrifice for the privileges of citizenship? Or did
citizenship give them the freedom to sacrifice?
They are heroes, and today we honor their legacy by standing on their
shoulders to see our city's future.
A future where justice is not a dream deferred, but a goal achieved.
What do we want for our city? We want simple justice.
A Public school system where every child in every grade of every public
school reaches his or her full potential - this is justice achieved.
A city where every block of every street of every neighborhood is a
safe and secure place for children to play and grow - this is justice
A city where jobs and opportunity are growing - this, in a real sense,
is justice achieved.
But this kind of justice is not achieved by one person alone, nor by
government alone. It is achieved only when each of us rises to the
greatest of freedom's privileges, and that is the responsibility to
make a difference in the lives of our city, rich and poor.
When you accept responsibility for improving your family, or
congregation, or neighborhood, or workplace, or school, you make a
difference. You change the world. And no one in city government can do
it better than you can.
We must move forward together - as a city - united under one God,
secure in the faith that our sacrifice and hard work will one day be
redeemed. Make no mistake - Baltimore knows sacrifice. Baltimore knows
struggle. Baltimore knows persistence. And Baltimore knows
If there is no wind, you have to row. The best days in life are not the
perfect days. The best days are those when, out of failure and despair,
you take on a new challenge. And you feel alive with the promise of
what might be.
Today is such a day for our city. And our city feels alive. Alive with
the promise of what might be. Alive with the freedom of knowing that
there is more that unites us than divides us, alive in the faith that
there is no challenge so daunting that it cannot be overcome by the
holy people of this great City.
As we leave here today to remake our city, I would ask you to keep in
mind the words of the patron saint of my family's parish, St. Francis
of Assisi, who wrote:
"We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart,
and to bring home those who have lost their way."
This is my prayer for our city. To heal, to unite, and to bring home
those who have their way: to restore compassion, to build respect, and
to achieve justice - here and now... in this place... our place...
Baltimore, the greatest city in America.
Revised: January 11, 2001