Campus News

Commencement Address: U.S. Representative Tom Allen '67

Story posted May 29, 2004

Greetings from the State
by Congressman Tom Allen '67
May 29, 2004

It's wonderful to be with you on this spectacular Maine day. Congratulations Bowdoin Class of '04!

To all of the visiting family, friends and dignitaries, I am proud to welcome you all to Maine.

To the five individuals to whom Bowdoin today awards honorary degrees, thank you for your contributions.

Wherever today's graduates go, whatever you do in life, you will always have something of Maine within you.

And that is something very special.

Maine is more than some beautiful real estate, nestled on the Atlantic coast.

It's more than lobsters, blueberries, steamed clams and fiddleheads.

Maine is where some of the earliest battles in our nation's War for Independence were fought. And Maine sacrificed more of its native sons per capita than any other state for the cause of Union in the Civil War.

Maine is Aegis destroyers built near where clipper ships first sailed to the orient.

It's where Harriet Beecher Stowe conceived Uncle Tom's Cabin; Longfellow envisioned Evangeline's "forest primeval"; and Stephen King conjured up Carrie, Christine and Cujo.

Maine is where town names like Denmark, Norway and New Sweden reflect a northern European influence and where people from eastern Europe found a new home in towns like Richmond and Dresden.

It's a state that elected an Irish-American, Joe Brennan, and an Italian-American, John Baldacci, as governor and a Greek-American, Olympia Snowe, and a Franco-American, Mike Michaud, to Congress.

And Maine is a place where the people of Lewiston turned a cold shoulder to racists and opened a warm heart to Somali immigrants.

Maine is a special sense of community.

It's a community where neighbor looks out for neighbor.

In Maine, citizens still gather in town halls across the state each year to exercise democracy in it purest form.

More Maine citizens vote in elections than almost anywhere else in America.

Maine is American Civics 101.

In Maine, we strive constantly to strike the delicate balance between the rights of the individual and the responsibilities we each owe to our community.

In Maine, we've learned that when we get together for business, pleasure-or, somewhere in between, politics--we share information, acquire social and civic skills, learn to rely on each other and accomplish mutual goals.

These civic bonds are the lifeblood of a healthy society. They build community spirit.

They are effective whether the community is the Bowdoin campus, the Town of Brunswick, the State of Maine, the United States or the world.

Because where community spirit thrives, as it does here in Maine, children are healthier and happier.

Where community spirit thrives, the economy is strong.

Where community spirit thrives, governments work and personal freedom is protected.

Where community spirit thrives, those who sow hatred find that the seeds fall on barren soil.

When describing our responsibility to others and to the common good, Teddy Roosevelt said it best, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

Bowdoin graduates, you have done so much already.

Enjoy this day, and celebrate your success. Thank you.

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