Our family moved from the predominantly French-speaking area of Edmundston, New Brunswick, to the small town of Veazie, Maine, in the early 1960s. I quickly learned to speak English, but my heavy French accent was still very noticeable.

I remember that dreaded section of woods I had to walk through to get from school to the trailer park where we lived. Many times I was met there by neighborhood bullies who demanded a password before I could pass.

The password was the number “three,” but with my heavy French accent, I could not pronounce the needed “th” sound, so they exacted their punishment on me for not knowing the password.

I once cried out as to why they were doing this, and I’ll never forget when one of them answered, “Don’t you know you French frogs are the (N-words) of the North?”

I joined the Navy in the early ’70s and was involved in a couple of racially charged incidents where I stood up for fellow sailors whom I saw were discriminated against because they were black. I truly believe my compassion for their plight had a lot to do with my experiences as a youth.

But I also believe that during my college years, these experiences also made it hard to control the fits of rage that would come over me when I was called a “racist” because I was white and I disagreed with a racially patronizing statement made by a classmate.

As such, I would appreciate it if you liberals would stop throwing the word “racist” around me and a person with similar life experiences such as Gov. LePage. For us, that R-word is just as enraging to us as the N-word is to black Americans.

Ted Sirois

Saco