WATERVILLE, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage gave a short speech and helped remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message during a community breakfast at the Muskie Community Center on Monday morning.
The annual breakfast, sponsored by Spectrum Generations and the Waterville Rotary Club, has been attended over the years by LePage, the former mayor of Waterville.
“It’s home,” LePage said after the ceremony, where he danced with the Colby College African Drumming Ensemble along with Waterville Mayor Karen Heck.
“We’ve all come together today to honor the [memory] of a great man, someone who ultimately sacrificed his life for the cause of social justice,” said Rabbi Rachel Isaacs of Beth Israel Congregation.
Today “reminds us that it’s a day on, not a day off,” said Debra Silva, vice president of center operations of Spectrum Generations, a social services agency for adults. “It reminds us to remember Dr. King.”
“It’s all about remembering your roots and always going back home,” said LePage, who added that he has attended the event many times. “You can be governor, you can be president, you can be a senator, you can be a wealthy businessman, you can achieve whatever you want to achieve in life. It’s all about ‘don’t forget your roots.’ This day is particular, a day that I don’t want to forget where I came from. That’s why I come home.”
Silva said she enjoys having LePage at the annual breakfast.
“It’s great to have him here,” she said. “We look forward to it. He’s been coming here for many years.”
LePage kept his remarks short, deferring to other speakers.
“There’s many more people more important to be talking today than me,” he said.
The Rev. Butch Merritt gave the invocation and the Rev. Arlene Tully of Pleasant Street United Methodist Church in Waterville gave a 14-minute speech about reclaiming the power of love. Waterville Rotary Club President Don Plourde was the master of ceremonies at the 26th annual breakfast.
After breakfast, the drumming ensemble performed a few songs for the audience. LePage and Heck were brought in front of the crowd and danced. LePage headed toward the back of the group, but was moved forward near the end of the song.
“My dancing — I belong in the back of the room, not in the front of the room,” the governor said, laughing.
The drummers, led by Master Drummer Messan Jordan Benissan, got the crowd on its feet and dancing with the music.
Third-graders from the George J. Mitchell School in Waterville shared their dreams with the audience.
“I am a child of America. I have a dream that we will treat each other fairly,” said one girl.
“I am a child of America. I have a dream that someday we will have no wars … and that we can live in peace,” said a boy.
LePage expressed thanks to Spectrum Generations and the Waterville Rotary Club for putting on the event.
“It’s always great to come home and see your friends,” said LePage “Not only on Martin Luther King Jr. day, but Spectrum Generations has been very, very good to this community. I come here to do Meals on Wheels with them once a year. I enjoy seeing everybody.”