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This is Governor John Baldacci.

This weekend we celebrate the 223rd anniversary of the birth of our country. It was on Fourth of July, 1776, that we claimed our independence from Britain.

While the United States remains a grand experiment – a nation building upon a dream and the efforts, ingenuity and sacrifice of generation upon generation of Americans – the words written in the Declaration of Independence mean just as much today as they did more than 200 years ago.

The thoughts that were put on paper by men such as Adams, Jefferson and Madison were more than just words – the document was a contract based on ideals and freedoms that we, as Americans, pledge to uphold.

The Declaration states that, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”

In all the world, the U.S. form of government, and its enduring success are unique. The power of that government comes from the people - remains with the people, during war and peace, good times and bad.

And that is what has allowed the United States to grow and to prosper and to remain a guiding light in a world marked by uncertainty and upheaval.

America remains a land of opportunity, where people from around the world come to find their own version of the American Dream.

I am continually humbled when I meet the brave men and women who have fought – and continue to fight – to protect the rights given to us 233 years ago.

Americans have fought for freedom not only here, but around the world. Brave soldiers have sacrificed much for freedom – leaving their families and all that is familiar behind to defend our ideals, promote freedom and protect our country.

Some of those soldiers have paid the ultimate sacrifice, losing their lives in the line of duty.

It is because of the men and women of the military who volunteer their service that we fulfill the dream that arose in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.

We should celebrate them today as we celebrate the birth of our nation.

Our country has faced many challenges – in times of war; economic struggles; and natural disasters. But in every circumstance and every situation, Mainers and Americans, with their backs up against the wall have pulled together and come out even stronger.

We work together and unite for the greater good.

And in good times and in bad, the United States remains that land of opportunity.

So if you do work hard and play by the rules and give it your all, you can succeed.

It can be easy to lose sight of how lucky we are to live in such a great country. But we should take time this weekend to think about the democracy this country was founded upon and the sacrifices people have made so that we can maintain our freedoms and liberties.

I also recognize that the Fourth of July represents the start of a summertime celebration for many – and for many it’s been a long time in coming. So for this a long weekend, for most, please celebrate responsibly and have a very safe holiday and a very happy Independence Day weekend.

Thank you for listening.

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