July 25, 2018
(Hagerstown, MD July 25, 2018) - The Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, visited the Congregation B'nai Abraham on Wednesday July 25th. The Governor was joined by Maryland State Senator Andrew Serafini, Delegate Paul Corderman, Washington County Board of County Commissioners President Terry Baker, Hagerstown Mayor Robert Bruchey, Hagerstown Councilman Lew Metzner, and Washington County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Paul Frey. Toby Mendez, the world-renowned sculptor, was introduced to great applause. There were several other elected officials present, including members of the Board of County Commissioners, Hagerstown City Council, and members of the House of Delegates. There were also members of the business community, and scores of members of the Congregation B'nai Abraham.
Because of thunderstorms, the event was moved from the outside park site, to the large community room in the downstairs of the Temple.
As the newspaper said, it was "standing room only" for the ceremonies! The article can be found here: https://www.heraldmailmedia.com/news/local/ground-broken-for-hagerstown-park-honoring-diversity-advocate-thomas-kennedy/article_d5b69398-906d-11e8-9a0c-2b685ebd1684.html
The television station, WDVM, did a great story about the project: https://www.localdvm.com/news/maryland/thomas-kennedy-memorialized-for-his-anti-discrimination-work-with-new-park/1324519244
For the City of Hagerstown's video of the entire groundbreaking ceremonies (about 30-minutes in length), see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2D6Ab5lpYmo&feature=youtu.be
Some photos of the event:
Executive Director Tom Riford (on the left), is joined by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (center), and Thomas Kennedy Center board members, elected officials, and business community leaders.
Thomas Kennedy Center Board President Monda Sagalkin is presented with a House of Delegates Proclamation, in celebration of the groundbreaking ceremonies. Rabbi Ari Plost joined the presentation.
Executive Director Tom Riford served as Master of Ceremonies, and organized the event. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan congratulated the Thomas Kennedy Center during the ceremonies. He also said, "This is an exciting achievement for the Thomas Kennedy Center, Washington County, the City of Hagerstown, and the State of Maryland." He called Thomas Kennedy's "Jew Bill" legislation one of the most important accomplishments of law during Maryland's long timeline. The Governor remarked that while fighting for the proposed legislation, Thomas Kennedy said: "It will comfort us to think that we have done at least one good act in our lives, that we have been instrumental in establishing religious freedom in Maryland, that we have broken the yoke of superstition and prejudice and let the oppressed go free, and that we have caused happiness to many an anxious heart.” Governor Hogan applauded Thomas Kennedy's eight long years of struggle to get the legislation passed, which was finally signed into law in 1826, which allowed Jews to hold public office in Maryland. Governor Hogan said that Thomas Kennedy won a great victory for tolerance and inclusiveness. The Governor said "When completed this fall, The Thomas Kennedy Memorial Park will be dedicated to the ideals of religious freedom and tolerance."
Areial rendering of the park's location.