June 22, 2018
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LePage remarks insult Mainers, tarnish image

By Bob Chaplin, Special to the BDN

Since we became incorporated as a state in 1820, Maine people have been highly respected and revered throughout the rest of the United States and the world.

Right from our humble beginnings, our people recognized that we have a unique and special environment. We daily marvel over this incredible place that we call home.

I once mentioned to a Maine lobsterman that the view of Mount Desert Island from the sea was spectacular. His comment: “Bob, you never want to take this place we live and work in for granted.” That lobsterman’s insightful observation goes for the entire state.

How does one go about describing the many images of Maine? Here are some examples: canoeing and camping on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway with our families; absorbing the beauty of the Maine potato fields of Aroostook County while in blossom; sharing with another hiker her sense of accomplishment after reaching Baxter Peak on Mount Katahdin for the first time; raking blueberries on a blueberry barren in Washington County; the sighting of finback whales feeding just off the shore of Lubec or Eastport. Others are: fly fishing for Atlantic salmon on the Machias River; riding your bike to the summit of Cadillac Mountain to watch the sun rise; the inspired feeling you get when you first sight the magical, mystical Monhegan Island; walking along the warm, sparkling sands of Popham Beach on a hot July day; cruising among the picturesque islands of Casco Bay; snowmobiling at Rangeley, the Switzerland of Maine; skiing down the awesome trails of the many Maine ski resorts; swimming, boating, and fishing on Sebago, Moosehead, and thousands of other pristine Maine lakes and ponds; experiencing thrill-a-minute white-water rafting down the Kennebec and Penobscot rivers. Each of us has our own very special and personal images of Maine.

We Mainers are the finest kind. We have cherished the close relationship with our natural environment that we have passionately stewarded for almost two centuries. Our work ethic is second to none. Our craftspeople are tops in the country in boat and shipbuilding. Our men and women are creative, ingenious entrepreneurs.

Our lobster industry has the best conservation practices in the nation. Our state is covered with more forests than any other, providing pulpwood for paper manufacturing and pellets for heating of homes and businesses. Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association is a national leader in organic dairy, beef and vegetable farming practices. We are innovators of alternative, green energy — wind, solar and tidal power. Our colleges, universities, high schools, middle schools and elementary schools are among the best in the nation. Our residents receive excellent medical care from our highly qualified health care providers. We are a recognized leader in biomedical research.

We Mainers are a generous and giving lot whether supporting returning troops from Iraq or Afghanistan or helping to care for those who are less fortunate. Mainers are shining examples of what it means to be good neighbors. We have a good image of ourselves, and visitors from away, who visit us by the millions each summer, concur.

The strength of the Maine character has been personified by senators such as Margaret Chase Smith and George Mitchell who, among others, have distinguished themselves as statesmen.

Maine people are proud of their great state, their outstanding residents and their notable heritage.

When Gov. Paul LePage makes off-the-cuff, denigrating comments it insults all Mainers. His most recent derogatory comment has tarnished the wonderful image of the great state of Maine and its proud people. Maine and Mainers deserve a governor whose image reflects statesmanship.

Bob Chaplin of Bar Harbor is an educator.

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