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This is Governor John Baldacci.

Great leaders throughout the ages – from Aristotle to Napoleon and George Washington and Abraham Lincoln – have given credit where it’s most deserved: To our mothers.

Washington said: “All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”

Lincoln echoed that same sentiment and said, “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”

For almost a hundred years, the second Sunday of May has been designated Mother’s Day in the United States.

It’s fitting that this year it also coincides with graduation for six of the seven University of Maine campuses.

Speaking as a parent, I can think of few gifts that will make me as proud as when my son graduates from college.

But I also know as someone who returned to college as a non-traditional student to earn my degree, most of us share credit for graduation with our parents.

I couldn’t have done it without the support – and prodding – of my mother and father.

And I believe most of the students graduating today would say the same thing.

Everyday, mothers across this State and nation go to work trying to make life better for their children and for their neighbors. They are the bedrock of our families and our communities, and give of themselves in ways great and small.

They have earned our love and respect everyday of the year, but it is fitting that we have put aside one special Sunday to loudly say “thank you for all that you do.”

There is no card worthy of the work, and respect that I have for mothers, other than to be able to say as Governor of the State of Maine, “Happy Mother’s Day to each and every one of you. Thank you for what you’re doing for our families in our community, our State and our nation. Without you, nothing else is possible.”

The world recognized Mother’s Day back in 1910 as “Mother’s Friendship Day” in West Virginia.

But since that time, those old limitations no longer apply. Women now serve in ways once reserved just for men.

For little girls growing up today, every dream is in reach.

And at the same time, none of that changes that special bond between mother and child.

When I think of my own mother, I remember her strength and determination and absolute commitment to her family, and especially her eight children.

She taught me and my seven brothers and sisters the importance of family and community. She showed us how to stand up for what we believe, and to face adversity without complaint.

She would often remind me when I was serving as a Congressman, she would say, “John, don’t complain about it. You ran for it.”

At the same time, when support and shouldering of responsibilities was necessary, she was the first one to make sure that I didn’t stand alone.

So, every child deserves the blessing of a loving mother. It is the foundation for so much of what we become as we grow older.

We know without a doubt that children with involved parents will do better in school.

And we know that the stability of home translates into stability away from home.

For many children, difficult family lives leaves them exposed to a harsh and dangerous world. Luckily, we have loving and committed foster families who willingly open their lives to help children in need.

This weekend, I want to say congratulations to all the mothers’ sons and all the mothers’ daughters who are graduating from college.

And I want to say happy Mother’s Day to the women who helped make it possible.

You deserve our love and gratitude and respect all year.

Thank you – and especially to the First Lady, thank you - and have a great Mother’s Day.

Thank you.

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