Many know Wednesday, January 18, 2023, as the day that Wes Moore and Aruna Miller were inaugurated as Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Maryland. However, our two classmates and we know it as the day when we saw history being made merely feet away from us.
Our day started with the commute that led us to the state capital in Annapolis. It was then that the realization hit us of how big and how important this event was to be. As we filed out of the Lowe House Office Building, following a meeting with Delegate Michele Guyton, there were hundreds of people around waiting eagerly for a glimpse of Wes Moore or Aruna Miller.
After some negotiation, we obtained media passes that allowed us access to the media pool right below the Inauguration platform. Surrounded by media covering the event, my classmates and I kept our heads up as we marched through with our notebooks and phones, ready to report on this monumental day. We squeezed our way with the media to a spot just under the balcony that served as the platform, where we saw various politicians and celebrities appear from the State House, including our two U.S. Senators, Oprah Winfrey, and Chelsea Clinton. (The Maryland State House is the oldest state house in continuous legislative use.)
The energy in the capital reflected what Maryland is all about. From the Morgan State University choir singing ‘God Bless America’ to the student marching band of Bowie High School, merely inches from us at times, the music and performances reflected the youth of Maryland and the new history that it is embarking on.
Throughout the ceremony, each speaker left the audience and my fellow classmates captivated, and by the time Gov. Wes Moore took the stage, it was clear that he was the leader many Marylanders had been so excited about (he had taken the oath of office just before, in front of the state legislature, so he was officially the governor when he appeared on the platform). Even the weather was perfect: despite rain and wind the days before and after the ceremony, Moore gave his address in Annapolis with the sun beaming down and no clouds in sight. “It’s the Moore Magic,” some speakers ad-libbed, but regardless of coincidence or charm, the blue skies and sun represented the near-ethereal charisma Moore brings to many across the state.
The inclusion of youth in the ceremony capped off the lively energy of the day. Moore’s son James even recited the Pledge of Allegiance as his classmates from Calvert school watched from the audience. More than just youthful charm, James’ smile reflected that of his father’s, exuding genuine pride and joy in the people of his state. In addition to the choir and marching band, Parijita Bastola, a high schooler from Anne Arundel County, sang the Star-Spangled Banner: a reflection of the Moore-Miller campaign’s faith in and commitment to Maryland youth. “We will ensure that every student knows their state loves and needs them,” Moore pledged in his Inaugural address, and judging from the thunderous applause, it’s a promise Marylanders are desperately seeking. As the wave of mental health crises hits kids across the nation, Miller and Moore provide an anchor of hope around which they hope to structure their administration. Their plans to implement a service year option for high school graduates will, Moore stated, “give our young people greater ownership of our future.”
The theme of collective ownership was repeated throughout the entire Inauguration Ceremony. Aruna Miller’s daughters attested that they were honored to “share [their mom] with Maryland,” solidifying the identity of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor as family- and community-oriented. Oprah Winfrey, who introduced Governor Moore, credited Maryland as the source of her identity, having started her career as a cub reporter for WJZ-TV: “In Maryland, I found myself.”
Moore and Miller essentially became the entirety of Maryland for those few ceremonial hours: it was as if they were the sole factors helping Oprah find herself, as if they were not just people but figures exuding the values of service and love. “Let us march on until victory is won,” Moore exclaimed, prompting another round of cheers. These collective pronouns – “us,” “we,” “our” – allowed the people of Maryland to see their Governor as one of them, and themselves as leaders of their community.
Through his identity and his values, Wes Moore has reshaped the narrative of success. The first Black Governor of Maryland, he also earned the most votes for Governor in MD’s history. In an unprinted part of his address, Moore spoke to the toxic partisanship that plagues both Maryland and America. “If we are divided, we can’t win. But if we are united, we can’t lose.” Moore credited his victory to the bipartisan unity he sought and hopes to make a cornerstone of his administration. His promise to govern “for all Marylanders” and “build uncommon coalitions” was another example of the distinction of the Moore-Miller leadership from past administrations. During the Inauguration, the exchange of affection was commonplace. Miller’s daughter Meena tried not to cry while introducing her mother, and there was lots of hugging and hand-holding between families, both on and off the podium. This language of love was common for the Moore and Miller
, families and put smiles on the audience’s faces as they watched their elected officials accept their offices with genuine joy and a powerful community standing with them. We have a unique opportunity to “lead with love,” Moore said, while Miller nodded behind him. The placement of this line – mere sentences before the end of the address – closed the ceremony with an attitude of happiness and connection that was associated with the pair’s campaign and now their administration.
Regardless of political affiliation, gender, race, or other identity, the message that many took away from the ceremony was that the Moore-Miller administration will be anything but ordinary. (Photos by Charley Mitchell ’73)