Katahdin monument a treasure

After President Barack Obama designated 87,500 acres along the East Branch of the Penobscot River as Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, I decided I would visit to see what the area had to offer.

Living near Mount Desert Island, I am familiar with one of our nation’s most treasured places, Acadia National Park. Since Acadia also had its start as a national monument 100 years ago, I figured there must be something amazing about Maine’s newly designated inland version. There is, but it’s different from what makes Acadia amazing. In fact, the degree of difference is one of the things that makes Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument a treasure.

After arranging to have Matagamon Camps shuttle my vehicle to the Wassataquoik gate, I followed the river south. On the way I saw a bear, but it wasn’t kind enough to wait while I fumbled with my camera. Throughout the trip, all my senses were engaged. I heard everything, from the tinkling of brooks to the thunder of Grand Pitch. I inhaled the scents of the forest. I felt the feet of the mouse who woke me up in Grand Pitch lean-to. I event sensed a connection with Teddy Roosevelt, who, like me, forded the Wassataquoik Stream. Luckily, I kept both shoes.

In three days I didn’t see another person. Thousands, if not millions, are looking for this same, quiet experience. Only because of this designation will the world know this place exists, waiting to be explored.

Richard Berry


New national anthem

Johnny Cash once said, “There are songs which can change a person’s life.” He was referring to “Amazing Grace.” John Newton, a slave boat captain, composed this poem on the high seas. He resigned from this occupation and dedicated the rest of his life to changing the laws in England. Shortly before he died, Parliament forbid slavery and slave trading.

Our present national anthem is hardly creating much inspiration. Other than some sport figures sitting out the song and protesting street violence, we watch TV news and do nothing. I suggest that on any given Sunday morning that our local church choirs go into the streets and public parks and sing a melody of songs that would include “Amazing Grace” and “God Bless America” (Irving Berlin’s and Kate Smith’s claim to fame), followed by Ray Charles’ “America.”

Our present national anthem is hardly significant, as Francis Scott Key, who composed the poem, was the owner of five slaves of which he granted freedom only to one. As a lawyer, he took on the obligation of settling an estate, and he worked for the walking papers of 400 slaves. But his concern stopped there as he refused to join the abolitionist movement.

The next step would be for our Congress to change our national anthem to “God Bless America.”

Robert Fournier


TPP threatens sovereignty

Christopher Burns’ Sept. 17 BDN article about a draft report on the Trans-Pacific Partnership prepared by the Margaret Chase Smith Center at the University of Maine does a fine job detailing the report. Unfortunately, that report minimizes the negative economic consequences of the TPP while entirely neglecting the noneconomic costs of the agreement.

TPP’s Investor-State Dispute Settlement system potentially poses a direct threat to local control in Maine and to our national sovereignty. Any laws and regulations passed by our Legislature or Congress to protect our environment, access to affordable medicine or basic human rights could be at risk. The dispute provision of the TPP gives new rights to thousands of multinational corporations to sue the U.S. government for potential lost profits and leaves taxpayers on the hook for any damages. The cases are heard by private tribunals outside of any national legal framework, the awards cannot be appealed and there is no limit to the damages.

The draft report details some very modest financial gains for the state, but what we will be giving up is hard to quantify and will easily outweigh these small benefits. Reps. Bruce Poliquin and Chellie Pingree have already indicated their opposition to the TPP. It’s time for Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins to publicly pledge to vote no on the TPP if it comes up in the lame duck session of Congress or the next administration.

John Curtis


Cain will fight for vets

On Sept. 19, a group of retired military members wrote an OpEd in support of Rep. Bruce Poliquin, who they said has a strong record in support of veterans. They included among them a colonel, a brigadier general and an Air Force chief master sergeant. Who would dare challenge them?

Sounds like a job for an Army noncommissioned officer. I’m a post service officer in the VFW and the American Legion. I help veterans — young and old, healthy and infirm — get access to care and benefits that help them live, grow and recover from military service.

A Sept. 18 BDN article recently compared Poliquin’s record to former Rep. Mike Michaud. I disagree with that comparison. Michaud was a champion for veterans, and I have not seen the same devotion from Poliquin. Rather, I believe Michaud’s clear passion for working people, service and veterans is shared by Poliquin’s challenger, Emily Cain.

I respect that Poliquin has a group of military elites, all great people, who support him. But I can’t imagine seeing a retired general officer waiting to pick up his prescription at the window. These are not the people I see at Togus waiting in line or struggling to wheel themselves to the bathroom.

Those are the veterans I think Cain understands best: people like you, me and most of the 66,000 veterans in the 2nd Congressional District.

She gets it. She really cares. That’s why I support her and why I think other voters should, too.

George O’Keefe Jr.


Trump above the law

Remember when Donald Trump said he could shoot someone and not lose a vote? That was a claim. Then he took it a step further by possibly inciting violence against Hillary Clinton.

His belief is that he is above the law. He’s proven his belief is legitimate. He’s also proven we are not a nation of equals. Surprised? I don’t think you are.

Charlie Cameron