Gov. Janet Mills on Tuesday helped kick off Maine’s Bicentennial year at events in four cities around the state, including Bangor, where she participated in a morning kickoff event at Broadway Park.
Bicentennial Kickoff Day came just a few days after the 200th anniversary of the affirmative vote to separate the District of Maine from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on July 26, 1819, as part of the Missouri Compromise.
Mills and representatives from the Bangor City Council and the Penobscot Nation unveiled the state’s new bicentennial flag, designed by Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap.
They also unveiled a new granite bench that has been installed in Broadway Park, which commemorates the 200th birthday of the state, and marks Bangor’s Tricentennial Pine Grove of three white pine trees in Broadway Park. The grove recognizes the important role eastern white pine trees have played in Maine state history.
In her remarks, Mills noted some of the many notable and colorful Mainers who have populated the history books — from big names including Gen. Joshua Chamberlain and Sen. Margaret Chase Smith to lesser known figures such as Cornelia “Fly Rod” Crosby, who in 1897 became the first registered Maine guide.
She also highlighted Scarborough native William King, who was voted Maine’s first governor after it became a state in 1820. King, an ardent abolitionist, ensured that Maine at that time would bestow voting rights on all men regardless of race — though it would be another 100 years, of course, before women could vote.
“It would not be the last time our small state defied expectations and shaped the world because of brave men and women who rose above impossible odds,” Mills said.
Mills visited Presque Isle, Bangor, Portland and Augusta throughout the day Tuesday, flying on a Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry-owned helicopter in order to make it to Bangor by 11:30 a.m. from a Presque Isle kickoff event that started at 8:30 a.m. Mills traveled via road the rest of the way after the Bangor event.
Penobscot Nation Tribal Ambassador Maulian Dana and Bangor City Council Chairperson Sarah Nichols also spoke, both noting the need to recognize the past in order to blaze a path to the future.
“All these things from history that we’re talking about today connect us to our past,” Nichols said. “That’s how we learn who we are.”
The Maine 200 committee is tasked with planning all the statewide events through the bicentennial year, as well as assisting municipalities in planning their own events. The committee comprises 20 politicians, academics and historians, and is chaired by former Maine State Archivist Dave Cheever and Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham.
“We’re here to help people plan events in their own towns and make it their own,” Cheever said.
Though the final schedule for state-sponsored bicentennial events is not yet finalized, several previously announced events are still planned. They include a statewide Community Dinner Day in March 2020 that will also operate as a food drive for local food banks and pantries; a large celebration in Augusta on March 15, 2020, the actual statehood day; a visit to various Maine towns in the summer of 2020 by Tall Ships America; and a Maine Innovation Expo set for October 2020 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
For more information, visit maine200.org.
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