Governor Mills: The hope of our past and the faith in our future are with us this Memorial Day.

May 22, 2020

This weekend is Memorial Day. I want us to pause this weekend and remember the good, the courage and the grace of our nation’s past.

Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.

This has been an extraordinarily difficult year, 2020, for our country and for our state. There is pain and illness, death and unemployment, and financial loss.

But it is on Memorial Day too that we remember how much else we have been through, how we survived those times and how we will survive and rise again.

This is the anniversary year of many other difficult years. Forty- five years ago, the end of the Vietnam War which sent 48,000 Maine men and women to that far-off battleground and took the lives of more than 340 of our people in Maine.

Sixty-seven years ago, the end of the Korean conflict, “the forgotten war” so called, which took the lives of more than 33,000 Americans, including at least 244 Maine soldiers.

Seventy-five years ago this month, V-E Day, the fall of the Third Reich, and, later that year, the end of the Second World War in which 80,000 Maine people served and more than 2,000 perished in battle.

I think of those people, the hardships they faced with uncertain fates, in Normandy and Belgium and Pacific islands.

Memorial Day brings respect and a sense of history as we honor those who perished to preserve our country and to protect our freedoms. It brings grief for the families of those recently lost including at least ten war heroes whom we have lost to the deadly coronavirus and whose families are unable to celebrate their lives.

When I think of those who served their country, I think of the courage they showed in the toughest of times.

Those Mainers who served and fought with determination and great hope for our collective future. A determination that I respect today. And a hope that I feel again today.

Seventy-five years ago last month, we lost one of the most vital people of the Twentieth century — Franklin Delano Roosevelt who led us out of the Great Depression and then led the American people through war, calling on us to speak with one voice, one heart, with determination, and dignity, showing what our nation is capable of as we fight against a formidable foe and formidable odds.

The odds we face today are great as well.

We know what to do.

We are not raising rifles and bayonets, or dodging land mines or dropping bombs on an enemy whose face and flag we know.

We are not walking into battle in foreign fields and forests.

We are facing an enemy that is real but unseen, as sure a killer as any enemy we have ever fought in our history.

We are fighting this foe as a nation and as a state, not with bullets, but with hygiene, not with soldiers huddled in bunkers but with social distancing everywhere we go, not with torpedoes but with face coverings. These are our strange and novel armaments, our only sure ammunition against this enemy. And we are all soldiers in this fight.

We arm ourselves this way to protect ourselves and protect people whose names we do not know — the people we meet on the street; who work in the restaurant, or the packing plant or the store; the nurses, doctors and people who care for the sick; and the veteran who deserves to live the remainder of that heroic life with health and happiness, not to be felled by a painful contagion far from family and friends.

We face great odds this year, as we did 75 years ago.

But we have the same hope and the same faith in the future, the same commitment to community that drove our predecessors not only to serve and survive, but to rise again, a unified nation.

The hope of our past and the faith in our future are with us this Memorial Day, as we raise our heads high, facial coverings on. Our souls rise, as we show, with these simple measures, our love for our neighbor, our respect for the freedoms and safety of all citizens, our great love for our state, and our love for our nation.

Wear the mask to show you care. Wear the mask with pride, in honor of every patriot.

God bless you. God bless the State of Maine this Memorial Day weekend.

This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.