"To get to Maine, you have to be going to Maine. You are never just on your way someplace else" - George Mitchell
I had the pleasure of hearing Former Senator George Mitchell speak in his (and my) hometown last week at the Alfond Youth Center Hall of Fame dinner. His wisdom and charisma fill the room immediately and the buzz silences as the people listening really believe and care who this man is and where he came from.
George J. Mitchell was born on August 20, 1933, in Waterville, Maine, to Mary Saad and George Mitchell. Mitchell's father was a janitor at Colby College in Waterville Maine, where Mitchell was raised. Mitchell's mother was a textile worker who emigrated to the United States in 1920 from Lebanon. After receiving his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College in 1954, he served as an officer in the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps until 1956. In 1960 he earned a law degree from Georgetown University.
GM served as a United States Senator from Maine from 1980 to 1995 and he became a leading figure for the Democratic Party, and was credited with helping his party win back the majority in the Senate in 1986. Senator Mitchell was elected majority leader in 1989, a position he held until his retirement from the Senate in 1995. He was known among his colleagues in the Senate as an honest leader and skillful legislative strategist.
George Mitchell served as Chairman of the peace negotiations in Northern Ireland. In 1995, he served as a Special Advisor to President Clinton on Ireland, and from 1996 to 2000 he served as the Independent Chairman of the Northern Ireland Peace Talks. Under his leadership the Good Friday Agreement, an historic accord ending decades of conflict, was agreed to by the governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom and the political parties of Northern Ireland. For his service in Northern Ireland Senator Mitchell received numerous awards and honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor given by the U.S. Government; the Philadelphia Liberty Medal; the Truman Institute Peace Prize; and the United Nations (UNESCO) Peace Prize.
Senator Mitchell's life and career have embodied a deep commitment to public service. His commitment to serve community and country, along with his characteristics of intellectual distinction, leadership, integrity, excellence, and fairness are all the qualities that make our country great.