By MAJ (MDDF) Stephen Rice and 2LT (MDDF) Anthony Granado
Maryland Defense Force Public Affairs
17 September 2014
Over the course of several days, various elements of Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) provided volunteer support for the Star Spangled Spectacular’s festivities. These units, including the MDDF Band, the 10th Medical Regiment and the D9 Recruiting Unit served under the direction of Col. (MDDF) George Rich, the task force commander of Operation Early Light. Their support helped to ensure that the festivities honoring the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the National Anthem were an unparalleled success.
On September 11, 2014, the Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) Band performed twice for the 200th anniversary ceremony of the Battle of North Point. The first performance at Patterson Park in Baltimore City preceded the ceremonial march of five hundred members of the Maryland National Guard (MDNG) 175th Infantry Regiment (Fifth Maryland) from Patterson Park to Battle Acre Park in Dundalk, Maryland. This march replicated the six mile route that the Maryland Militia took two hundred years ago to engage the British in battle and protect the City of Baltimore from attack. At the end of the march in Dundalk, the MDDF Band played again for a special wreath laying ceremony conducted by Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley and representatives from the British Embassy.
On September 13, 2014 the MDDF Band performed on the public stage at the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine for the National Anthem Celebration. Some of their musical selections included the National Anthem, America the Beautiful, Gold Bless America, The Stars and Stripes Forever and My Maryland. This historic event included speeches by Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley and U.S. Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. The evening concluded with a demonstration of the largest fireworks display in Baltimore City’s history.
On September 14, 2014 the MDDF Band performed for the historic Dawns Early Light celebration held inside the walls of Fort McHenry. This special ceremony honored the exact moment that the National Anthem was born 200 years ago. Various U.S. military units including the Third U.S. Infantry Regiment “The Old Guard,” and a U.S. Navy detachment from the U.S.S. Constitution stood in formation on the parade ground. Other military units from the United Kingdom and Canada were also in attendance. The keynote speaker was former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Colin L. Powell, United States Army (Ret.). This memorable event was shown live and rebroadcast to millions of American households by the C-SPAN television network.
The highlight of the MDDF Band’s performance was their playing of the “The Star-Spangled Banner,” while the public audience sang all four verses of under the direction of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. Lt. Col. (MDDF) Jari Villanueva who directs the MDDF Band, officially known as “Maryland’s Musical Ambassadors,” commented that “This was a magnificent event that honored our shared American heritage. I am also thrilled that citizens across this great country were able to hear the wonderful music of the MDDF Band.”
While the MDDF Band was entertaining large crowds, the MDDF 10th Medical Regiment was providing onsite medical support for the thousands of visitors to Fort McHenry. The 10th Medical Regiment operated a mobile hospital that treated patients with various medical issues throughout the Star Spangled Spectacular’s celebrations. The medical professionals of the 10th Medical Regiment provided excellent care and a safe environment for all in attendance.
Under the direction of Maj. (MDDF) Bryan Fischer, the MDDF D9 Recruiting Unit established a recruiting and information booth for the MDDF during Star Spangled Spectacular. This booth was staffed with junior officers and non-commissioned officers that educated the public about the mission of the MDDF. “We staffed our recruiting and information booth throughout the festivities so that we could spread the word about the good work that’s being done on behalf of the State of Maryland by the MDDF,” commented Maj. (MDDF) Fischer. He continued, “We met a host of patriotic Americans and proud Marylanders who were delighted to know that there is a corps of volunteers who donate their time in service to the state.” “This was a great event for us.”
Col. (MDDF) George Rich, the task force commander noted that, “Supporting these festivities was truly an honor for the MDDF. Our volunteers performed extremely well and I am very proud that we had this historic opportunity. Operation Early Light was a smashing success.” Pictures from the event can be found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/58685478@N08/sets/.
The Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) is the State’s uniformed volunteer military unit providing professional and technical assistance to the Maryland Military Department. Established in 1917, the MDDF consists of nearly 450 personnel who perform legal, engineering, finance, medical, chaplain, field support and ceremonial services for the State of Maryland. For more information: www.mddf.maryland.gov