A Memorial For “The Guardians Of Free Speech”

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"In memoriam.” The definition according to Webster’s dictionary states, “in memory of — used especially in epitaphs.”

Each morning over the past 25 years, I read The Capital newspaper. As a state delegate and a family law attorney with deep roots in Anne Arundel County, it is ingrained in me to absorb the local news, the letters to the editor, as well as featured articles, which affect our local communities.

Each day, I see the names of the various reporters who bring us the news. The reporters’ names have changed over the many years as many have moved on to larger papers having gotten their start here in Annapolis. Many remain at the paper as well.

However, since the events of the tragic day of June 28, 2018, The Capital’s editorial board decided to name and include pictures of the five persons employed in various positions at the Capital newspaper who lost their lives: Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, and Wendi Winters.

“In memorial” it says. “Today and forever, we remember our colleagues who were murdered in the targeted attack on the Capital Gazette office.” It appears on the opinion page of The Capital every publication day.

Their loss has and will continue to affect this entire community. Individually, the families and friends of these lost loved ones personally have created some “in memoriam” remembrance to celebrate the lives which truly touched our community each day. National news agencies as well as the federal government have honored them as heroes. And now we will have a memorial dedicated in Annapolis on June 28, 2021. Newman Park is the location, and the memorial will be named “Guardians of Free Speech.”

My legislative assistant was employed by The Capital newspaper in the 1970s as the switchboard operator during her college years and then as the paper’s librarian in early 2000. She describes the passion and dedication to the community by her past coworkers. These trying times remind us how unique the newspaper profession and their professional community is. One could argue that is it one of the most selfless and least self-serving professions.

The types of people working for local newspapers, whether The Capital Gazette or the Severna Park Voice, are not there to tout their prestige or ego. They work for the community and the stories they write about others while establishing a deep comradery with each other. Seeing the names and pictures of those lost almost three years ago in The Capital shows a reverence and respect that goes beyond words or stories one could say or write. I look forward to having a place to honor them in Annapolis.

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