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Good day.

Last week, I had the great honor to attend the opening night ceremonies for Maine’s very first Festival of the Book.

It was an exciting night that kicked off a weekend of activities meant to connect accomplished writers with readers and to explore the work of some of Maine’s most notable authors.

The weekend Festival was created by the MaineReads organization and by my wife, the First Lady. They deserve credit for bringing together a program of great books, great people and great events.

On Friday night, Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough read from his amazing biography of John Adams, one of our country’s most inspired and influential Founding Fathers.

McCullough’s portrait is built upon countless hours of research and an examination of what Adams wrote and what he read.

Through his pages, McCullough brings the Boston lawyer and scholar and political philosopher alive, sharing his inner-most thoughts, doubts and aspirations as recorded in his diaries and in the margins of the thousands of books from his personal library…and I mean thousands of books!

On Wednesday, we will celebrate the Fourth of July and the birth of our nation. It’s a good time to think about John Adams and his role as a revolutionary thinker, Founding Father and president.

It was on July 4th, 1776 that Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, forever changing the course of world events.

The text of that document means as much today as they did 231 years ago:

“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 power from the consent of the governed.”

John Adams had earned his reputation as a lawyer traveling a circuit that included Maine, which was then part of Massachusetts, was among the authors, with Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin.

Harvard educated, frugal and self-aware, Adams was a leading voice in the birth of the United States of America. He nominated George Washington to be the head of the Continental Army, and later served as our new country’s second president.

And through his writings, we can see his influence on the political thought that guides our country to this day.

“Government is nothing more than the combined force of society, or the united power of the multitude, for the peace, order, safety, good and happiness of the people....There is no king or queen bee distinguished from all others, by size or figure or beauty and variety of colors, in the human hive. No man has yet produced any revelation from heaven in his favor, any divine communication to govern his fellow men. Nature throws us all into the world equal and alike.”

It is the ideal of equality and the notion that the authority of the government comes only from the people and should be used only for their benefit that continues to drive us today.

The United States remains a grand experiment, a nation built upon a dream and the efforts, ingenuity and sacrifice of generation upon generation of Americans, determined to live according to the ideals put to paper by men such as Adams, Jefferson and James Madison.

Today, as we face a difficult war and relentless additions to the list of heroes who have sacrificed in the name of our United States, I am reminded of Adams’ words to his friend, Jonathan Sewall, during a visit to Portland in 1774.

Sewall was a Tory and a defender of England, but nonetheless remained a close friend to Adams. As retold by McCullough in his book, during a visit to Maine, the two friends meet on a hill overlooking Casco Bay.

Both remained unshaken in their beliefs, be it on different sides of the struggle for independence.

“Swim or sink, live or die, survive or perish,” Adams said. “[I am] with my country … [and] You may depend upon it.”

If you talk to the men and women who bravely serve our country today, you will hear similar words.

Like Adams, who could hear the canons roar at Bunker Hill from his home and saw friends and colleagues die, our servicemen and women know firsthand exactly what it means to sacrifice for an idea.

We are lucky to have such men and women amongst us.

Happy Fourth of July.

God Bless Maine, and God Bless the United States of America.

Thank you.

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