As someone who was a professor at a college in Vermont at the time of James Jeffords’ service in the U.S. Senate, I cannot let it be forgotten how well the Vermont senator served the people of this entire nation by taking all due cognizance of something that has had a disastrous effect upon its future.

A lifelong Republican of an outlook that even Dwight Eisenhower saluted and served, Jeffords was the first to recognize that the party had fallen away from this basic principle and the spirit of its founder, Abraham Lincoln, raised on high over the graves of those who died fighting at the Battle of Gettysburg that “government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Despite intense pressure, in 2001 Sen. Jeffords took heroic action and became an independent, caucusing with the Democrats.

Letters in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesday, the day of the announcement of Jeffords’ death, see both parties as being almost equally guilty of abandoning the Lincolnian principle in our time (“Party polarization benefits independents,” “Pro-corporate philosophy is bad for Maine’s economy” and “Sen. Angus King needs new view on wind energy tax credits”).

But those who are able to distinguish the difference between 1 percent and 99 percent cannot see this as the case.

Eventually, every culturally literate person in America must recognize how right Sen. Jeffords was in 2001 to better serve “the greatest good for the greatest number” when he walked away from the party that had become subservient to the 1 percent in the misbegotten belief in “trickle-down.”

Sen. James Jeffords deserves a final salute from all of us.

George Eaton

South Portland