BALTIMORE - Continuing a longstanding Preakness tradition, the U.S. Naval Academy glee club sang "Maryland, My Maryland" in the rain during Saturday's post parade. It sounded lovely, but there was more there than met the ear.
Political correctness alert!
The lyrics to the Free State's official song were written in 1861 by James Ryder Randall, a Confederate sympathizer, ardent secessionist, and like so many 19th century poets, a three-name guy. Randall hid nothing between the lines in a nine-stanza epic that ripped President Abraham Lincoln as a "tyrant, despot and vandal" and called the Union people "Northern scum."
(Of course, the very brief version sung by the midshipmen from Annapolis contained none of those insults.)
Lincoln called for troops to protect Washington in April 1861, the first month of the Civil War. While en route to the nearby capital, some soldiers came by train through Baltimore, and protests by Southern sympathizers led to riots that left four dead. One was a friend of Randall, a Marylander teaching in Louisiana at the time, and he poured his rage and grief into his cry of vengeance.
Hetty and Jennie Cary, sisters who lived in Baltimore, grafted Randall's words onto the sweet melody of "O Tannenbaum," more familiar now as "Oh Christmas Tree." If radio had been invented, it would have been the No. 1 hit below the Mason-Dixon Line. The plea for Maryland to leave the Union became a rallying cry for the Confederacy and was called "the Marseillaise of the South."
Randall's use of the words "sic semper" foreshadowed the Latin phrase "sic semper tyrannis" ("thus always may it be to tyrants") that assassin John Wilkes Booth cried out in Washington's Ford's Theater after he shot Lincoln in April 1865.
A border state in which slavery was legal, Maryland had bitterly divided loyalties, with roughly one-third of her soldiers fighting beneath the Stars and Bars instead of the Stars and Stripes. Although it never seceded. In 1939, it adopted "Maryland, My Maryland" as its official song. There have been moves to change the lyrics, including one in 2009 by fourth-graders from suburban Baltimore, but that hasn't happened.
Which proves that in places scarred by the Civil War, the aftereffects can linger for a very long time.
Baffled as a jock
Baffert learned pretty early that he wasn't going to make his mark as a quarter horse jockey: "My horses were usually about 30-1, and about 28 of that was me," he said.