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Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

College seniors – and soon high school seniors – across Maine are in the midst of graduation season.

This is a time of great hope and opportunity for our graduates.

To those of you celebrating this milestone, congratulations.

Like you, I’m also graduating this year.

And like some of you – I bet – we will be moving back home.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve my hometown of Bangor, my State and my country in elected office.

Throughout more than 30 years in government, I have had the pleasure to meet many wonderful and inspiring people: Presidents, poets, statesmen and world leaders.

The people I find most inspirational are the young men and women of Maine, our State’s next generation of leaders and thinkers and creators.

The world our graduates will face is much different than the one that was waiting for me when I graduated from college.

But there is also a fundamental and core value that runs deeply through Maine’s communities.

In 1966, Robert F. Kennedy delivered a speech at the University of Capetown, South Africa.

He asked the world to tear down the barriers of race and religion, social class and ignorance.

The challenge he gave to students was this:

“This world demands the qualities of youth”; he said, “not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease.”

While the nightmares of segregation and apartheid have ended, injustice remains.

As our graduates move on to the next stage in their lives, they will be called upon to stand for what is right.

There is still discrimination and hate – intolerance for the things that make us different.

These battles are sometimes fought in crowds and through protest, but they are won with one person and one changed mind at a time.

Through small, individual acts of kindness, strength and moral courage, the world can be changed.

That our leaders of tomorrow can inspire others.

You can lead the way, and you can turn the tide.

One person can make a difference – Martin Luther King Jr.; Archimedes, who said give me a place to stand and I will change history; a young woman freed France: Joan of Arc; and a young man ruled the known world: Constantine.

So history is marked by the names of men and women courageous enough to make a difference.

But even if small acts can send a ripple that travels around the world, it also can help to change lives.

But good things don’t just happen.

They demand hard work and commitment.

Those are two qualities Mainers have had always in abundance.

It’s exciting to think about all the great things our Maine graduates will do.

The challenges they will overcome.

The doubts they will lay aside.

And the problems they will solve.

So as our graduates enter a world that is uncertain and changing.

As it was in 1961 when Robert Kennedy said:

“All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don’t. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.”

Years spent on the campaign trail and in public office give you a great gift – the chance to meet thousands of people, each with their own story.

It is the mill worker, the nurse, the teacher, the coach. The police officer, the fishermen, the line worker and firemen that I remember, and I think about every day when I go to work.

It’s people who work hard and play by the rules.

They raise their families, they pray that their children will be happy and have opportunities that they missed.

These children – our graduates of today – will realize our hopes for better days ahead.

And in celebrating their future - in recognizing their education, their skills, their creativity and their talent - we are celebrating Maine’s future.

Our graduates are the new leaders.

It is within their power to build a brighter future for themselves and their families.

But they will also help to build a better future for our State, and the many students and workers who hope to follow in their footsteps.

Anything is possible. Maine’s graduates can make it happen!


Thank you and have a great weekend.

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