by Celina Simmons
At the Annual Dinner for the Maine’s State Bicentennial, special guest speaker Patrick Dempsey said, “There’s strength in compromise, not weakness,” when reflecting on the history of Maine and our past governors. Through what was said that evening by each guest speaker, the statement stands true.
The dinner was held October 30th by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, celebrating 200 years of Maine being an independent state in the United States of America. The first hour of the evening began with a reception for all the guests to mingle and during that hour, Patrick Dempsey (also known as “McDreamy” from the hit series Grey’s Anatomy) arrived.
Dempsey is a Maine native, born in Lewiston, and also founded the Dempsey Center, a non-profit organization focused on providing services and treatments to individuals dealing with cancer and their families in Maine. He posed for pictures and conversed with some of the attendees before President of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Dana Connors, welcomed us to a lovely dinner.
The first award, “Professional of the Year” was presented to Deb Neuman, president of the Bangor Chamber of Commerce. She earned this award for the leadership she’s demonstrated through her passion for learning.
Following was a video presentation of the seven out of eight past Maine Governors. For a more detailed recap of this video and what the governors had to say, check out “Recapping Past Governors” on page 5 of this issue!
After the video presentation, Janet Mills, Joseph Brennan, and Kenneth Curtis were awarded the “Dirigo” Award on behalf of all the governors featured in the video. As the state motto, Dirigo translates to “I lead” and the award was presented in recognition of those who carry confidence and commitment through their work in helping Maine grow.
They also awarded Mr. Dempsey with this award after his speech on his non-profit, the Dempsey Center, and climate change; how we can be more aware and conscious of our actions.
I knew I couldn’t leave without at least one picture with Patrick Dempsey. I had prepared some questions throughout the night just in case I could get an interview with him and- lo and behold, I did! When the awards ended, more people gathered for pictures as well, but before leaving, he agreed to take an extra 10 minutes out of his night for our interview.
Regardless of the big name Dempsey has made for himself, he says he always carries a piece of Maine in his heart. I first asked him how he felt about what the governors had to say in the video. He responded with the biggest take away being to get to know each personal story and seeing the humanity behind it that can sometimes be forgotten and how important it is for leaders to show that humanity.
I was curious about what he himself does in the fight against climate change after hearing all the suggestions he made in his speech earlier. “We are very conscious of what we bring into the house now… It’s very tricky in California because we are seeing the profound impacts,” he explained, “It’s really horrifying when you have children and they say we won’t have anything in 30 years.”
In regards to what we (as a community) can do and have done, he responded with, “There is always more. This is not enough.” He mentioned how we need more government support and individual responsibility to force our leaderships to change. That is why this upcoming election is so critical, especially for young voters. He is encouraging young voters to step up, “This is what is democracy. Democracy is your vote.”
I would like to encourage you to take a moment and place yourself into an evening unlike your own. Imagine standing where you stand under rules you don’t agree with, under a power residing so far away that your opinion never mattered in the slightest. Now, imagine your voice was heard.
Imagine the government took action with that voice and now, there is hope – hope that your voice will continue to be heard in a brand new democracy. Welcome to America and welcome to Maine. As Janet Mills said earlier that evening “we are blessed to live here, not burdened.”