All Maine Matters

June 2006



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Memorial Day Thoughts
By Senator Lois Snowe-Mello

Memorial Day, perhaps more than any other holiday, was born of human necessity. Deep inside all of us lies a fundamental desire to make sense of life and our place in the world. What we have been given, and what we will pass to the next generation, is all part of an unfolding history, a continuum that links one soul to another.

Memorial Day falls annually and most appropriately in between our Mother’s Day and Father’s Day celebrations. I say appropriately because of all the components of our great Republic that our fallen soldiers fought and died for, the family reigns supreme.

Ironically, of all the aspects of our Republic that have weathered the years since our founding, it is the family that has taken the greatest pounding in recent years. Divorce has become a standard factor in a child’s life. Single-parenting has moved from being something to be avoided to another possibility to be achieved. Cultural pressures from activist groups and judges are working to alter the historic definition of what a family is.

Simply stated, the erosion of the family represents the erosion of the cornerstone of our nation, and indeed our civilization.

Recognizing that, can there be a higher calling than to serve ones nation honorably, bravely, and with the defense of your family back home at the top of mind? If not for the selfless, brave women and men stepping forward to raise families of their own throughout the ages, who among us would today be breathing God’s fresh air, or drinking Maine’s clear waters?

Similarly, if not for the selfless, brave men and women who stepped forward throughout the past two-hundred and thirty years to defend our freedoms, to defend our borders, to defend the Constitution of the United States and the concept of liberty as was forged by great minds over the course of many centuries – without the service and sacrifice of these sons and daughters all, mothers and fathers many, would this article even be appearing in this paper on this day?

Abraham Lincoln must have pondered these thoughts in the late fall of 1863. His darkest fear was that he might well be the last president of the United States, a nation then in the midst of what he described as “a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.” He began his remarks with those words as he stood on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19th of that year.

The speech that became known as Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address turned into what might be called the first observance of Memorial Day.

Lincoln’s purpose that day was to dedicate a portion of the battlefield as a cemetery for the thousands of men who consecrated that soil in the sacrifice of battle. As Lincoln said: “That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause which they gave the last full measure of devotion….that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.”

War is a pernicious thing for all concerned. The soldier does not want it. The generals do not want it. Those who have seen it up close want it least of all. It robs us of our youth and brings untold suffering to families everywhere it touches.

But it also serves as a grim reminder that the cost of our freedom, democracy and liberty was not paid in full by our forefathers. The debt remains with us even today, and the costs are heavy. The world has become a hostile place, with violence that seems contrary to every value we hold true. Our enemies are not a sovereign nation we can negotiate with. They represent an ideology we an scarcely understand. And now it remains a challenge for all of us. I salute the fine young Americans who have volunteered for military service in the far-flung places where we encounter this deadly enemy in a war that could last for generations.

At this Memorial Day gathering, we especially want to recognize those who served during the epoch of World War II. Their generation is passing from the scene, and we are all the poorer for that. It is important that we show our appreciation of their collective sacrifices. Without their strong dedication and perseverance, the cause of liberty and sanity in the world would not have prevailed. We honor them today, along with all the others who have worn the uniform of the United States of America.

Our country remains the greatest hope for all humanity, indeed for the preservation of our great human family. We must go on, and we will.

Senator Lois Snowe-Mello represents District 15, including the communities of Auburn, New Gloucester, Durham, and her hometown of Poland. Currently serving her freshman term in the Senate, Lois was a member of the House of Representatives in the 118th, 119th, 120th and 121st Legislative Sessions. Senator Snowe-Mello prides herself on her reputation as being both pro-business and pro-environment as a current member of both the Labor and Natural Resources Committees. She is up for re-election, and intends to campaign tirelessly for the privilege to serve again. Senator Snowe-Mello can be reached at (207)784-9136 or at

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