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Janet Mills is the governor of Maine.
A hundred years ago and more, Laurence Smith Coffin tilled the hard soil of Aroostook County, twitching logs out of the woods in winter to support his wife and three children, while Peter Mills and his family plied the furrowed waters off Stonington where men loaded granite blocks on ships to build the great monuments to freedom in our nation’s capital. In western Maine, the Pearson family readied their fields to grow acres of corn between endless stone walls.
Republicans with deep independent streaks, through two world wars, the Great Depression, epidemics and periods of civil unrest, the people of rural Maine, including my forebears, have always respected hard work and honest thought and duty to their land and to their country.
Maine’s respect for the military is second to none, calling up more soldiers and sailors to serve, proportionately, than any other state. In the Civil War alone, Maine contributed a larger number of combatants to the Union cause than any other state — 73,000, nearly 8,500 losing their lives in the effort to end slavery and preserve the Union.
In Bangor, Lewiston, Fort Kent — in the center of all towns across Maine — there are somber monuments to citizens who served their country and perished in battle. Every family in Maine has its heroes who fought for freedom, dignity and democracy.
I knew one such gentleman from another state — Lt. Beau Biden, husband and father of two, who fought in Iraq. He was not required to serve. But Beau was a patriot in action as well as in name. He did not simply wave the American flag on special days or salute a passing parade. His sense of duty called him to act and to sacrifice as so many Maine men and women have done in wars throughout our history. Beau and I served together as attorneys general of our states.
Beau Biden lost his life to cancer five years ago. But Beau’s father carries the same sense of duty, which he imparted to his son. He lives the values that make our country strong and great — honesty, compassion, deep personal faith, real family values, tolerance for the views of others, a willingness to stand up to dictators, and a heartfelt respect for the United States military.
Beau’s father is Joe Biden, and he is running for president.
While Joe Biden and I may not agree on everything, I know this:
Joe Biden will not stand silent in the face of Russian aggression.
Joe Biden would never sit idly by as Vladimir Putin offered a bounty on the lives of American soldiers.
Joe Biden will not pick trade wars with other countries that cost our industries their livelihoods.
Joe Biden will look to fact and science to cure, once and for all, the pandemic that is weakening the very fabric of our nation.
Joe Biden owes nothing to any foreign dictators.
He will never vilify the lives of everyday Americans.
He will not slur or slander our noble prisoners of war and those who sacrificed so that our nation could remain free.
Joe Biden will not sell us out to any other country at any time, for any price, for any reason.
This election is not about Republicans and Democrats or liberals, conservatives and moderates, or about right versus left.
It is about trusting once again in the integrity of our government.
It is about pride in our nation.
It is about saving America’s standing in the world as a beacon of freedom, respect for a strong military and faith in the foundations of democracy.
It is about holding true to the sense of duty and independent thought that Maine has stood for for so many generations.
When I vote for Joe Biden on Nov. 3 I will be voting for the values, traditions, patriotism and love of country for which Maine stands.
My ancestors would demand no less.