Fill in the blanks: Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria; Mayflower and Speedwell; ? and ?
The answer, as any true Marylander should know, is Ark and Dove. Three hundred and fifty-one years ago today, Lord Baltimore's two-schooner fleet dropped anchor off St. Clement's Island, in what is now St. Mary's County. And because even states need a birthday, today is officially Maryland Day.
However, though the holiday commemorates the search by disgruntled Britons for new freedom, only a few of their descendants have a free day today.
Most county offices, including those in Anne Arundel, Charles, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties, are open; Frederick County offices are closed -- as are those in Calvert, befitting a county named for the sponsor of the mini-fleet. Courthouses and state offices, including unemployment insurance offices, are closed; but most schools and libraries (except for Prince George's County libraries) and city offices are open.
Motor Vehicle Administration offices are open because of the annual rush for automobile tag renewals.
Incidentally, despite its populist nickname, the Free State, and its professed equanimity of political debate, Maryland was named for a diehard royalist: Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I who tended to lose his head when faced with political opposition.