At the end of World War II, Judge Learned Hand spoke at an “I Am an American Day” ceremony in New York City’s Central Park, asking himself and us all what it truly means to be free.
“We have gathered here to affirm a faith, a faith in a common purpose, a common conviction, a common devotion,” he said. “…We have [a] right to consider ourselves … those who had the courage to break from the past and brave the dangers and the loneliness of a strange land. What was the object that nerved us, or those who went before us, to this choice?”
This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.
Judge Learned Hand answered his own question regarding those who came to this land from other lands, he said, “We sought liberty — freedom from oppression, freedom from want, freedom to be ourselves.” He concluded that liberty rests not in “ruthless unbridled will or the freedom to do as one likes,” which leads to freedom possessed by only a cruel few, but instead in the hearts of every man and woman who seeks to understand the minds of others, those who weigh others’ interests alongside their own without bias, and in the spirit of an America that “strives to be a signal,” he said, “a beacon, a standard, to which the best hopes of mankind will [for]ever turn.”
This year’s celebration of our nation’s founding will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen in our lifetimes.
A global pandemic has infected millions of people. The very ways in which we show our love and joy and grief and sorrow — handshakes, hugs, shouts and songs — they are no longer safe as they used to be. The same goes for the backyard family barbeque with family and friends from near and far.
To combat the spread of the deadly virus we are facing and to save lives, governors across the country have imposed restrictions on the movements and activities of their people.
Boy when I ran for Governor I never envisioned I would have to tell people in Maine to stay home. To wash their hands. To stay six feet apart from others at all times. To wear a cloth face covering.
I did so as many other governors did so because public health experts have told us those are the ways we have to fight back against this pandemic, and other states and nations who have managed to curb this virus have proven those measures are effective.
But despite the science, which shows us what we need to do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and begin healing our economy, some people have tried to make this pandemic political. Saying that requiring people to wear face cloth coverings is forcing them to give up their freedoms, their personal liberty.
But then again, are any of us truly free while this pandemic rages on around us? And isn’t the purpose of a face covering to protect others as well as ourselves?
Like the founding of our nation, our freedom, our liberty, now rest on the spirit of patriots. Patriots who face great odds, but who fight with determination and hope for our collective future.
The Declaration of Independence ends with this simple promise the founders made to each other, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
This July 4th let us once again “pledge to each other our lives”. Let us remember in this difficult time that our fortunes and futures are bound together.
The hope of our past and the faith in our future are with us this Independence Day, as we raise our heads high, face coverings and all showing that we care for our neighbor, showing that we respect the freedoms and safety of all citizens, showing our great love for our state, our love for our nation.
So wear the face covering, wear the mask with pride, in honor of every patriot including those many patriots, the honored warriors whom we have lost to COVID-19.
God bless you all. God bless the State of Maine this July 4th weekend.
This is Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening and stay safe.