Maine will celebrate its first “Maine Seniors Day” this Saturday, Sept. 14. I was honored to submit legislation this session to create the nation’s first official celebration of our most-valued citizens.
The new law not only establishes a special day, the second Saturday of every September, but also encourages seniors across the nation to retire here, vacation here or simply buy Maine products.
Maine has one of the oldest populations of any state in the union. This could be seen as a burden on our economy. The Maine Legislature and Gov. Paul LePage see it differently. This law encourages all public and private sector organizations and businesses to promote Maine as a great place to retire.
We sometimes tend to take the negative view of our state as the end of the line, highly taxed or just a cold and expensive place to live. It is critical that we acknowledge and promote our assets and relationships to those “from away.” Many people have vacation connections to Maine’s coastal towns, beautiful mountains and woodlands or childhood memories of summer camps throughout our fine state.
They see it differently, too.
People from away can sell their homes, move to Maine, buy the same quality home for half price, put the remaining money in savings and live in nice small-town settings. They can volunteer at the local library and attend high-class cultural events. Retirees can get out of the hustle and bustle of the fast life to enjoy the peace and quiet of our natural resources, open spaces, fresh air, clean water and clear, starlit nights.
Maine has an abundance of quality higher education institutions for seniors to enjoy now that their life provides them opportunities to learn about things they just didn’t have time for in their busy work-a-day world. With our many lakes, streams, woods and coastal waters, they can take the time to go boating, fishing, hunting, bird watching or hiking.
Our health care facilities are large enough to provide top-notch specialized care regionally, yet small enough to offer personalized care close to every community. This is very important to seniors looking for the best place to spend their active retirement years.
This legislation was requested by David Nealley, publisher of “Maine Seniors” magazine, co-sponsored by many legislators and supported by several organizations. The timing is important. The second Saturday of September comes after the summer hubbub but before leaf peeping. This will help businesses by bridging the summer to foliage seasons.
We didn’t want this to become another law on the books, soon to be forgotten as just another declared “special” day of the year. Our hope is this day will become a day to look forward to each year, a day that is actively promoted by businesses large and small.
We hope restaurants and hotels offer special “Seniors Day” discounts and shops provide discounts on Maine products. We hope chambers of commerce and towns promote the day and offer special activities. If embraced, this day can become an important economic force for our state while celebrating our seniors’ talents, wisdom and life experience.
Please think about how you can promote Seniors Day in your business or community, and share it with me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you have special memories of a senior who made a difference in your life, please share that story as well. And thank the people who paved the way, working to make a better life for you. Happy Seniors Day.
Rep. Richard H. Campbell, R-Orrington, represents Bucksport and Orrington in the Maine House.