Today is my swearing in at the Capitol, the day when I officially take on my new duties as State Representative for Camden, Islesboro and Rockport. I’m excited,honored and humbled, and realize I am joining a wonderful group of local citizens who have held this position in years past, friends and neighbors like Joan Welsh, Owen Casas, Susan Dorr, Artie Sprowl, Steve Bowen, and many more. But as I prepare for this milestone in my life, I am also thinking of President George Bush and his legacy – in particular, the one and only time we met.
I use “met” pretty loosely, as you will see. The month was August, in 1999 or 2000, and my sons and I were invited to join a friend and a group of people from Biddeford Pool to tour a Navy destroyer newly completed by Bath Iron Works. It was an experience I will never forget. To see the diversity of Americans on this ship, working together in harmony and expediency, made an impact on me as well as my boys, preteens at the time. And then, in what was a surprise to all of us civilians, a speed boat burst through the fog and President Bush came aboard.
He gave a short but moving speech, but his words were meant for the sailors on that destroyer, and they came from his heart. Later he would shake our hands and head back to Kennebunkport, but what I remember most is the genuine way he spoke about his own time in the Navy, saying he felt those were some of the best years of his life. He choked back tears as he spoke.
As I think back on it today, I don’t doubt President Bush’s sincerity. Despite his loving family, his incredible achievements, and his many summers in Maine, he was a man who valued public service above it all. Today, as we mourn his passing, I will take my oath to serve the people of Maine, and I’ll remember his legacy as well.
Paid for and authorized by Vicki Doudera.