On October 21, 2017 the Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) celebrated its 100th anniversary at the Fifth Regiment Armory in Baltimore, which was attended by a host of state and local officials.
On October 23, 1917 the Maryland State Guard, as the MDDF was then called, was founded to protect public building, water supplies and other properties as the Maryland National Guard was deployed overseas. The centennial celebration ceremony included remarks from Maj. Gen. Linda Singh, The Adjutant General of Maryland and Brig. Gen. (MDDF) Lorenza Cooper, Commanding General of the MDDF. The event also included a keynote address by David Craig, executive director of the Maryland World War I Centennial Commission. At the conclusion of the ceremony special commemorative coins celebrating the 100th Anniversary were distributed to MDDF members, former members and distinguished guests.
During his remarks, Brig. Gen. (MDDF) Lorenza Cooper called the original state guardsmen, “Super-Patriots who were prepared to thwart an attack on Maryland while the Maryland National Guard was deployed.” He then shared that, George Bernard Shaw once stated, “the reasonable man adapts himself to the world, the unreasonable man adapts the world to himself; therefore, all progress is dependent upon the unreasonable man.” He continued, “Therefore we must continue to adapt to changing times. Transformation is coming fast, and natural disasters are increasing, which pro-vides us with an opportunity to adapt to this new environment.” He then shared, “I can guarantee that the next 100 years will not be like the last 100 years. Foreign and domestic terrorism is on the rise, natural disasters are unpredictable, and death and destruction are now at your fingertips. However, let history record that the state militia is as strong today as it was in 1917.” He concluded, “While the future is uncertain, it is with certainty that the MDDF and a community of volunteers will always rise to the occasion.”
Maj. Gen. Linda Singh, the adjutant general of Maryland began her remarks by thanking the MDDF and said, “The Maryland Military Department cannot do what we do without your support.” She continued, “One hundred years ago the only thing that was constant was change. Today the only thing that is constant is change. We have the opportunity to shape the MDDF of the future.” She then added, “Americans have forgotten what it’s like to have a battle on the homeland. However, today’s natural disasters and local terrorists constitute our current battles on the home front.” She then shared, “I hope that we never see the destruction here that occurred during World War I. It takes the will of the people to get through something like that, but that’s what the MDDF represents – the will of the people.” Gen. Singh expressed her wish that, “the MDDF will triple in size because that tells me that more and more people are willing to give their time and lives for their country.” She concluded by saying, “If ever we have to defend the home-land and the Maryland National Guard is called away, I know that you will be there.”
In his speech, Mr. Craig shared, “the Maryland National Guard had been very active prior to the entry of our country into World War I. Units had been sent to Texas to resolve issues which the U.S. was having with Mexico in 1916 and they actually entered Mexico. When we entered the war, President Woodrow Wilson moved the National Guard into federal service.” Consequently, the state was largely left unprotected and he continued, “In 1916 Germany sent a U-Boat into the Chesapeake Bay which reached Baltimore. This caused great fear in the state.” This fear facilitated the creation of the Maryland State Guard. The Maryland State Guard was mobilized twice during World War I to ease racial tensions across the state. Mr. Craig also shared that Governor Emerson Harrington who signed the Maryland State Guard legislation into law stated before leaving office, “We are under deep obligation to the state guard.” Shortly after the war, the Maryland State Guard was disbanded.
MDDF OLD and NEW Uniforms
As the United States entered World War II there was again fear on the home front. On October 21, 1940 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Federal legislation authorizing states to again institute state guards. Then Maryland Governor, Herbert O’Connor signed state legislation creating the Maryland State Guard on February 14, 1941. As a part of the state guard, this legislation included for the first time the formation of a black infantry unit. During World War II, nearly every county in the state had a company. Again, after the war the Maryland State Guard was disbanded.
On July 1, 1983 the Maryland Defense Force was recreated after being authorized through legislation signed by then Governor Harry Hughes. The MDDF has continued its service to the state uninterrupted since that time. After presenting Brig. Gen. (MDDF) Cooper with a citation on behalf of Lawrence J. Hogan, the governor of Maryland, Mr. Craig, concluded, “I respect all of you who are here now, all of you who were here before and all of you who wish to be here in the future.”
The Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) is the State’s uniformed volunteer militia unit providing competent, supplementary, professional and technical support and soldiers to the Maryland Military Department and the State of Maryland as needed. Established in 1917, the MDDF consists of nearly 250 personnel who perform legal, engineering, finance, medical, chaplain, field support and ceremonial services for the State of Mary-land.
For more information: www.mddf.maryland.gov.
By: MAJ Stephen Rice firstname.lastname@example.org