October 25, 2013

Letters to the editor: A day of special treatment for veterans

Shutdown or not, volunteers and military brass made our visit to the war memorial special.

I have returned from a Sept. 28 trip to Washington, D.C., courtesy of Honor Flight New England. Columnist M.D. Harmon’s reminder is appreciated (“Closing veterans’ memorials reflects badly on Obama,” Oct. 18).

click image to enlarge

A World War II veteran tours the war memorial in Washington on Oct. 2, during the government shutdown. A veteran from Gorham who visited Sept. 28 writes that he had a memorable time, thanks to volunteers and many others.

2013 Reuters File Photo/Kevin Lamarque

This wholly free flight from Logan was preceded by an escort of the Maine State Police to the New Hampshire border.

Space does not permit a full description of a magnificent day at no cost to World War II veterans. We were honored at every stop as well as being provided a personal “guardian” who provided for every need. They were volunteers.

At the war memorial, we were saluted by members of the Air Force, having already been greeted by a long line of midshipmen from Annapolis.

Gen. Colin Powell stood in our midst with a welcome. He thanked all of us regardless of what role we had played in the war. He included all of the civilians of that time who had given all kinds of support to the great effort that resulted in a victory in both Europe and Asia.

A little later, as we walked or rode in wheelchairs around the memorial, I talked with a three-star general in the U.S. Marine Corps. Not bad for a second-class sonarman! The commandant of the Marine Corps was equally available, as was a two-star general.

Former Sen. Robert Dole, now in his 90s, was at the entrance in a wheelchair. We were asked not to touch him, but we could talk with him. One veteran told him that he had voted for him. The senator responded with: “But not enough of you did.”

I am sorry that Mr. Harmon has seen fit to castigate anyone for what has happened in the shutdown. Even faithful Republicans acknowledge the actions of members of the tea party were really responsible for what happened.

I still remember this memorable day and the many who contributed to it. We were not Democrats, Republicans or independents. We were – and are – Americans!

The Rev. Philip A. Shearman

Gorham

Pious Ali a perfect choice for Portland school board

Although I am a South Portland resident, I write to give my support to Pious Ali for the Portland school board.

I have known Pious from afar for several years, but came to know him better when he was a student of mine at Southern Maine Community College. His insights, thoughtful comments and engaging style were welcome attributes in my “Personal Growth and Development” class. Pious demonstrated both world awareness and self-awareness, frequently offering a perspective that was rich food for thought.

As a former mayor and two-term city councilor in South Portland, I encourage political participation. It is not just a way to give back to the community, but it is also how we can be more aware of the commitment it takes to bring about change.

Pious is a true collaborator, a thinker and a doer. I have watched him in his work with minority groups, interfaith groups and the school community at large.

As an immigrant himself, he offers insights and understandings that will enrich the school board’s knowledge base. An intelligent and articulate man, Pious is soft-spoken and patient. He is not one to push an agenda, but rather to listen and work to help solve problems.

I am proud to endorse Pious Ali and believe he would be a real asset in Portland. Well-known and trusted in many of the multicultural community groups, Pious can serve as a bridge, helping create understanding from experience.

Throughout this campaign, I have watched his dedication to the process and admired his willingness to be vulnerable in his learning.

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