Kent Island Heritage Society to honor Sen. James E. Kirwan
CHESTER — The Kent Island Heritage Society will celebrate “James E. Kirwan Appreciation Day” on Sunday, Sept. 17, during the organization’s annual picnic at the Krwan House and Musuem in Chester.
At exactly 3:15 p.m., the Heritage Society will highlight the importance of Sen. Kirwan’s efforts to save Kent Island from becoming a military proving ground, according to Heritage Society President Jack Broderick.
“Kent Island in 1917, the first year our nation was involved directly in World War I, was considered an ideal place for munitions development. Senator Kirwan led some 500 local citizens to go to Congress in Washington, D.C. to personally lobby against this placement happening on Kent Island. Among other things they mentioned, they told the Congressmen that Kent Island was the original settlement of colonists to Maryland, and was very much a productive farming and seafood producing community that should not be destroyed,” Broderick said.
The effort by Kirwan and local citizens took two and a half months.
“Kirwan earned the nickname, ‘the grand old man of Kent Island’ for his service,” Broderick added.
Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Mark Anderson will read a proclamation signed by all the commissioners, officially marking Sept. 17, as “James E. Kirwan Appreciation Day.”
The time, 3:15 p.m., was the exact time on Sept. 17, 1917, that Congress announced Kent Island would not be purchased by the federal government for munitions use. The proclamation and ceremony will be delivered at that time to honor what Kirwan and all who were involved 100 years ago did to save Kent Island.
During the ceremony, a small cannon will be fired, and then the ringing of a bell.
Members of Shore United Bank (formerly Centreville National Bank) will also be present. Kirwan was a member of the Centreville board for 40 years, and often bragged about “never missing a board meeting in all his years served,” Broderick said.
“If Senator Kirwan had not saved Kent Island from becoming a munitions center for the federal government, like Aberdeen turned out to be, the entire Shore would be very different now!”
Built more than 100-years ago, the James E. Kirwan home and store allow visitors to step back in time to an era when homeowners lived in their business. Located along Dominion Road in Chester.
A commemorative float for the centennial of Kent Island winning its battle against the War Department in 1917 was created by the Kent Island Heritage Society for the Kent Island Day parade in downtown Stevensville on May 20.