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).

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


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.

He seeks input and truly values those who offer guidance, the sign of someone who is sincere in his desire to make a difference. I urge you to support Pious Ali for Portland school board.

Rosemarie De Angelis

South Portland

Look for a way to prevent razing of illustrator’s house

It is a discouraging comment on our values that the house of one of America’s most celebrated illustrators is scheduled to be demolished (“Historic house in Biddeford Pool will get the ax,” Oct. 12).

James Montgomery Flagg, whose summer home was in Biddeford Pool, was most famous for his World War I recruiting posters, but he also illustrated numerous articles and books, wrote books and screenplays, and painted highly regarded oil portraits. Illustration was once extremely important and profitable work for artists, and its practitioners should not be forgotten.

There should be a way to preserve the Flagg house that does not burden its owner, Robert Ittmann, and I hope that a way can be found. If the house is razed, people will have to travel to Woodlawn Cemetery, in the Bronx, N.Y., and visit Flagg’s grave for a memory of him.

John R. Gregg


Foe of expanding Medicaid omits critical information

Scarborough state Rep. Heather Sirocki’s opinion piece on Medicaid expansion (“Maine Voices: ‘Free’ Medicaid expansion carries a big price tag for state’s taxpayers,” Oct. 16) prompted a few questions in my mind.

How many of the 70,000 “able-bodied” Mainers having MaineCare expanded to them are children or elderly or struggling with a disability?

Comparing New Hampshire and Maine numbers in Medicaid programs, what number in each state lives below the poverty line?

What is the combination of state and federal taxes?

If we are paying federal taxes for MaineCare programs, shouldn’t we receive the benefits of those taxes?

The current match is not part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion, which does not start until 2014.

Regarding the purpose of the Affordable Care Act: It is to ask all citizens to pay what they can afford for health care insurance, to provide, for the first time, basic security against catastrophic illness, and to encourage preventive care and healthy outcomes for all people.

If I understand the last question of the opinion piece, it implies that it would be foolish to contribute a share of the cost of providing health insurance to the poorest citizens of our state when the federal government will cover the costs. What’s wrong with this picture?

Robert Libby

Chebeague Island

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