Friday, March 16, 2018

Gearing up for Maine at 200 by Senator Bill Diamond

In just two years, Maine will celebrate the 200th anniversary of its statehood. As a state, we have been fortunate to experiences both turbulent and triumphant times. And now, at 200 we look back on how far we have come, and we reflect on what we want our future to hold. 
To prepare for this momentous and historic occasion, the Maine Legislature has created the Maine Bicentennial Commission to craft and administer a plan for 2020’s Bicentennial Celebration. 

Members include representatives from the Governor’s Office, the Legislature, and the Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Court, the Secretary of State, and the Commissioner of Education. Additional appointments are made by the Maine Humanities Council and leaders of the University of Maine system, the Maine Community College system and Maine Maritime Academy. Ex officio members of the Commission include Senate President Thibodeau, Speaker of the House Sara Gideon, the Maine State Archivist, the State Historian, and the Director of the Maine State Museum. 

Not only do I have the pleasure of serving on the Commission among this list of esteemed individuals, I also have the distinct honor of serving as chair, after being named by colleagues. I am deeply humbled by this role and I do not take these responsibilities lightly. I feel strongly that the goodness of the people here and the beauty of our natural environment can’t be matched anywhere else. I look forward to working with my fellow commissioners to make this a celebration worthy of our great state.

Our Commission seeks to work with cities and towns all across the state to plan celebrations that both commemorate two centuries worth of shared history and reflect on our own individual community roots. The bicentennial will include a number of events, with the celebration culminating on March 20, 2020. On behalf of the Commission, I wish to extend an invitation to municipalities from Allagash to York to participate in the big day.

As we gear up for the bicentennial, all Mainers have a role to play from the actual planning process to the big event itself. The Commission will be looking for suggestions and input from school children, local community service organizations and historical societies on how to best celebrate this historic event and how they would like to be included in the process. 

It is clear the Commission cannot do this work alone. We need all Mainers to participate to truly mark this historic moment.

Much like the Centennial Celebration in 1920, the bicentennial offers an opportunity for a renewed push to teach our school children from kindergarten through higher education about Maine’s unique and vibrant history. A hundred years into our statehood, Maine leaders wanted children to be educated on the history of our state. A 1920s pamphlet from the State Superintendent of Schools
offers lesson plans, a hundred facts and outlines why teaching Maine history is integral to the longevity of our state. 

Although so much has changed, a hundred years later we seek to do the same thing: Honor our history and document it for the future. The bicentennial offers a unique opportunity to educate our children in Maine’s rich history in a “hands-on” way. The Commission hopes to incorporate a curriculum that includes a special section on Maine’s 200th anniversary as part of the celebration.
In fact, the University of Maine has already begun preparing for the event by compiling historical documents in a special collection and publishing them online so individuals all across the state can access them. If you want to browse through this special bicentennial collection, go to

While we are excited for the Bicentennial Celebration, the Commission cannot do this work alone. As we get closer to the main event, I will keep folks up to date on ways they can get involved and contribute to this incredible milestone in our state’s history.

Whether they are Mainers by choice or by birth, Maine people are known for working hard, looking after one another and nurturing a deep love for this state. As we head towards our 200th anniversary, I look forward to celebrating our unique and shared histories with Mainers from all across the state. 

As always, I am ready and willing to listen to my constituents and all Mainers who have ideas to share. Please feel free to contact me at or (207) 287-1515, if you have questions or comments.

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