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Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

This weekend, we celebrate the birth of our great nation.

With fireworks, parades, silly costumes and family barbecues, on the Fourth of July we fly our flags with pride and remember what makes our country such a special place.

Unique in history from the day it was born;

Determined to be a light of justice and opportunity in a sometimes dark world.

This weekend is a time to celebrate all that is good about our country and our people, and to take stock of our place in its grand history.

But after the smoke from the sparklers has cleared and the sound of the patriotic music has faded, we will return to the circumstances we face today.

Among some, there’s a sense that things just aren’t right.

And you can’t blame folks for being angry when unemployment is too high, or we feel helpless to the stop the environmental disaster in the Gulf Coast.

There’s discord, and it looks like the issues in Washington are too much for our system to overcome.

But the troubles we face today will only be short passages in the story of our great country.

Just as we overcame the Great Depression, we will overcome this terrible recession.

Just as we defeated the Axis Powers during World War II and pried open the Iron Curtain to end the Cold War, we will defeat the enemies of our country who wrap themselves in the cloth of extremism and terrorism.

And just as we have overcome great fires and floods, disease and drought, attacks and disasters, we will overcome the oil that fouls the Gulf of Mexico.

Our resilience is the pedigree of our birth.

Two hundred and twenty-four years ago, as our nation came alive, things looked much worse.

In 1776, as Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, a British invasion fleet was preparing to land in New York.

Time has a way of softening the edges of reality. We forget that the men of the Continental Congress weren’t all friends, united behind a single idea.

The Congress included open rivalries and men of different convictions, all thrown together at a precarious moment in history.

Everything was at risk.

Despite being labeled “traitors” and “turncoats,” the members of the Continental Congress faced down the most powerful country in the world.

It’s easy to forget today, more than 200 years later, that when the Congress declared independence, the thirteen colonies also dissolved their central government.

As the war began, a new compact among the colonies was created. And a new federal government was formed hurriedly but from noble ideas.

But the Founding Fathers weren’t starting from scratch.

They built the United States on ideas from the Magna Carta that said no man – not even the King – is above the law.

They incorporated notions of individual liberty, justice and equality.

And they compromised and worked together to build a government that has survived through war, fear and desperation.

The choices they made have served our country well.

Ideas meant to keep the power of the government in check – such as the separation of powers between the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary – have insured that the ultimate authority rests with the people.

It’s easy to be frustrated when we look at government, particularly in Washington, and see what happens to appear to be inaction and divisiveness.

But the federal government was designed – by brilliant men determined to protect against the rise of a new king and the domination of the minority by the majority – to be deliberative, cautious and, at times, even cumbersome.

We do not invest ultimate power in one man or woman, free to move our country by decree. Or rely on the goodwill of the many to safeguard the few.

And it is that design that has overcome every obstacle, and that has made us stronger.

Formed while looking down the barrel of a British musket, the United States of American maintains the strength and vitality of its birth.

But our freedom has not come easily. It has been earned and protected by the brave men and women who serve our country at home and overseas.

And even as we enjoy this weekend, members of our military are serving under the harshest of conditions, far from family and friends.

We owe them all our gratitude and respect, and have a duty to support them and their families while they are away and when they return.

These men and women, who are willing to sacrifice for their country and its ideals, prove that what we share as Americans is worth fighting for.

Thank you and have a safe and happy Fourth of July Weekend.

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