Monday, November 11, marks an important day in Maine and around the nation – it’s Veterans Day.
On this Veterans Day, as we do every day, we should recognize the men and women who faithfully served our state and nation in the Armed Forces. Let’s join together to thank them and their families for their sacrifice, their bravery, and their devotion to our country.
Today, our state can proudly say that we are home to more than 114,000 veterans – more than 11 percent of our adult population and one of the highest number of veterans per capita of any state in the nation.
But when you consider Maine’s long and proud history of military service, that comes as no surprise.
During the Civil War, more than 2.8 million people served and more than 620,000 people gave, as Lincoln said, “the last full measure of devotion.” Many of those men came from Maine. Our state contributed a higher proportion of our citizens to the Union army than any other state in the nation.
One of my predecessors, General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, led the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Civil War and he is credited with saving the Union at Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg.
From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War to World War I and World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Maine people have stood up to defend our nation and its ideals and our state has shouldered its responsibility to protect our country.
President Lincoln also understood the toll these wars have on people and their families, and he also knew that bringing an end to the war would not bring an end to our support for those who served.
“Let us strive on to finish the work we are in,” he said, “to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
Today, we care for those who have borne the battle and honor what they fought for — so many rights which all are too fragile and too often taken for granted.
- The right to disagree...the right to express an opinion, whether anyone listens or not.
- The right to pray. Or not to pray.
- The right to personal privacy. And in the fundamental decisions of life.
- The right to ask for governmental assistance, and the right to be free of governmental intrusion.
Maine veterans teach all of us to cherish our rights, to remember those who gave their lives for these freedoms.
They teach us to remember that our sons and daughters still defend those rights on battlefields and potential battlefields a world away and in postings across the globe.
They teach us by their example the self-sufficiency they learned in combat preparation, and the strong sense of responsibility that comes from hard work and hard times.
They teach us honor. They show us dignity. They teach us service.
That is why I have officially proclaimed this week, November 10 through November 16, as Veterans Week. Please join with me in commemorating these heroic men and women who have served our state and our nation.
To all Maine veterans, thank you for your service from the bottom of my heart and thank you for your sacrifice and that of your families. To all those who have served and to those who continue to serve our country: our hearts are with you this Veterans Day, two thousand and nineteen.