Re: “Defying death for a better life” (June 30, Page A1):

I can’t commend the paper, Staff Writer Rob Wolfe and Staff Graphic Artist Michael Fisher enough for the front-page map and article on the asylum seekers. I had no idea what these people had gone through to try to reach Portland. All too often when I heard the word “refugee,” I thought only about those who are trying to get over the border from Mexico. And as depressing and disturbing as those images and stories were, I had no appreciation for the journey that preceded it.

But now you’ve given us a much more complete story of these courageous people and what they had to endure to gain freedom. And, yes, I am in awe of what they were willing to risk to come here. But I am also inspired by their example. I will no longer take my freedom for granted or hold it too lightly.

And I am also very proud of Portland and its people and all that they have done to welcome the asylum-seekers from Africa. This is what America stands for. This is America at its best. And this is what we should celebrate with, as John Adams said, “pomp and parade … bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other” each Independence Day.

Arthur C. Benedict

Peaks Island

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