We are not losers

I am just a year older than our president. I joined the United States Navy in 1969, the third generation of my family to serve our country in time of war. I am proud of my service and even more proud that my son became the fourth generation of our family to serve in the Navy some years ago. I continued my service in the Navy Reserve for many years following active duty and continue to work on behalf of veterans at our VA hospital in Togus, Maine.

Recently I have read that our president, who only wore a uniform in military school, has called veterans “suckers and losers.” He has denied making such a statement but, if true, this is beyond offensive to those of us who have served in the uniform of our country. After the negative opinions Mr. Trump has voiced regarding Sen. John McCain, perhaps the greatest Naval hero of my generation, I am inclined to believe that he indeed thinks those of us who served did so only because we were a bunch of suckers and losers — too dumb to get out of the draft.

The president is Commander-in-Chief of the United States military. His lack of respect for us is appalling. Rather than excuses and denials he owes us an apology.

As veterans, we are not looking for adulation, just respect. The president should not denigrate our commitment to our country because he feels shame over his own lack of service.

John H. Kanwit,

Law and Order vs. Black Lives Matter

I am increasingly troubled by a binary response to the “law and order” versus “black lives matter.” The assumption is that if you are for one, you are against the other. I don’t believe this is where the majority of the people in this country are.

Let’s start with support for our local law enforcement. Our police and sheriff departments are the essential means of protecting us in our communities. They need to know how much we respect and appreciate what they do for us each day. BLM demonstrations at local police departments make me very uncomfortable because those police are our guys looking out for us, not Louisville or Minneapolis. In these troubled times, they need our support. Recruiting is apparently getting very difficult, and many departments throughout the country are understaffed.

On the other hand, police departments everywhere have some serious work to do. Weeding out those who are unfit to wear the uniform has to be a priority, be it racism, or inability to handle the diverse range of highly emotional situations they become involved with. As the role of police has become more complex, training has to be amped up so that difficult social situations are not treated the same as clearly violent criminal acts. Department staffing needs to be adjusted to include specialists to deal with situations caused by stress, or mental or other illnesses.

All of the above does in no way diminish support for Black Lives Matter. Much of what goes on in this country can be traced to poverty which, of course, has been around forever, but has hit hardest people of color. When people see no opportunity to rise out of poverty, a great many things happen out of frustration, and hopelessness. This even happens in Maine where drug use is so high in many rural areas.

While the solutions are far beyond my capability to define, clearly the disparity in education is a major factor. As well-off folks, factories and stores left the cities for the suburbs, the tax base to support schools in the inner cities was decimated leaving the schools with inadequate resources to do their job. The allocation of federal resources must address this inequity. While black lives matters demonstrations create heightened awareness, they address the symptom, and not the cause. It would be great if both sides could work together on solutions to the issues driving poverty. So much for my idealistic view.

Paul Gamache,

Vote Gideon

As I listened to Susan Collins during the recent debate, it was clear that she has, as they say, drunk the Kool-Aid, accepting the president’s egregious behavior that has ranged from immoral to illegal. She is not the purportedly “moderate” legislator she once was. She has sold out not only her own soul, but the people of Maine. Susan Collins won’t even say who she supports to lead this country, but one thing is clear: Collins herself is no longer fit to lead any of us.

On the other hand, Sara Gideon has a long record of fighting for Mainers, and after seeing her in the debate, I am more convinced than ever that she belongs in Washington as our senator. She talked with passion about her work, and she named specific plans to address some of the most important issues facing our state. As a senior citizen, I especially resonate with her concern for affordable health care, and as a grandmother, I’m aware that without people like Gideon in the Senate to address climate change, ecological devastation will affect generations to come, not only here in Maine but worldwide.

As a retired teacher, I was also impressed by Gideon’s statements about job training and education programs. Throughout her years in the Maine House of Representatives, Sara Gideon negotiated strong financial commitment to K-12 schools and promoted affordable post-secondary options, something she named again in Friday’s debate. At the beginning of the pandemic, Gideon helped craft emergency legislation to provide additional funding for public schools and expand broadband coverage to more families, which is proving essential as school gets underway remotely again in many parts of Maine. She has vision, intelligence, and compassion, as witnessed in her final statement: “I will never forget where I come from or who I represent.”

This November (or before, if we vote absentee) we need to vote for a candidate with both sound policy and sound character. And that candidate is Sara Gideon.

Mary Lee Wile,

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