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Dyson Helps Honor Fowler, Raley as Maryland’s "First Citizens"

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on February 24, 2006:

Senator Dyson Former Southern Maryland State Senators C. Bernard "Bernie" Fowler and J. Frank Raley were honored February 24 on the floor of the Maryland Senate as Maryland’s "First Citizens" named after one of Maryland’s early founding fathers -- Charles Carroll.

The "First Citizen Award" is one of the most prestigious awards a citizen or legislator -- past or present -- can achieve. The award is named in honor of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, one of Maryland’s four signers of the Declaration of Independence and the only Catholic.

Former recipients include the late legendary Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, former U.S. Senators Joe Tydings and Charles "Mac" Mathias, Washington Post Executive Editor Benjamin C. Bradlee, former House Speaker Casper Taylor and numerous others who have made significant contributions to the State of Maryland.

Edward C. Papenfuse, Ph.D., State Archivist & Commissioner of Land Patents, provided a short history of each of the honorees who also included former Senator Martin Madden, currently the chair of the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Commission.

All three Senators were lauded for their efforts to preserve the environment, namely the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries while serving in the Senate and after they left office.

"C. Bernard "Bernie" Fowler has one of most famous pair of sneakers in the U.S.," Papenfuse said. "Since 1998, he has annually applied his sneaker test to Patuxent [during the annual "Bernie Fowler Wade-In"]. He has worked for many years to restore the Chesapeake Bay. He has pursued tough legal action to make sure government did its job. As a boy growing up in Broomes Island, [Fowler] grew up loving the river. He led these efforts as a waterman, county commissioner, state senator and private citizen. His June ritual has caught public attention nationwide. His goal continues to be to move people [to fight for the environment]."

"John Denver wrote a best seller ‘Gee it’s Good To Be Back Home Again’ and I really mean that," Fowler told the Senate body to overwhelming applause. "I more than appreciate this very special award. It’s especially comforting to share this award with J. Frank Raley, my longtime friend and one-time mentor. It will certainly go down in my memory bank as one of most appreciated awards I’ve ever had."

Fowler then made a quick pitch on behalf of a bill he is adamantly supporting, Senate Bill 379 -- Environment - Bay Restoration Fund - Patuxent River Watershed sponsored by Maryland Senator Roy Dyson [D-St. Mary’s, Calvert, Charles]."

"I have to take a moment," Fowler said. "You are going to see a bill about the Patuxent River. It’s a good bill. It may be Custer’s last stand if we don’t do something now. We’re going to lose this Bay, lose this tributary [if the measure isn’t passed by the General Assembly]. You will make an 82-year old Senator jubilant if you pass this bill. God will love you and so will I." Papenfuse said Raley was a profile in courage. "Senator Raley suffered political defeat in his efforts to successfully wean Southern Maryland from its dependence on gambling in the mid-1960s," Papenfuse said.

Raley was also cited by Papenfuse and others, including Senator Dyson, for his work with the Navy Alliance largely credited for last year’s overly successful Base Realignment Closure Commission’s decision to virtually keep the Patuxent River Naval Air Station intact. His efforts on behalf of the prestigious St. Mary’s College of Maryland and numerous other contributions to St. Mary’s County were cited.

"I am very proud to be here today with [Fowler and Raley]," Senator Dyson said. "They set a standard that makes me very proud to know them and to share their friendships. Southern Maryland is a better place because of these men."

"I often think of what John Carroll was talking about, building a democracy," Senator Raley said. "Not to our laws, but to the habits of the heart. We do those things because it makes us better people and better citizens and is the right thing to do. Not that I’m important or did that much but that I tried to adhere to the habits of the heart."

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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