Maine children should learn water safety

The waters of Maine are a valuable gift to anyone who resides here. They are the very thing that makes our state Vacationland, and yet they pose a great danger to anyone who doesn’t have the proper skills to use them.

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional, injury-related death for children between ages 1 and 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As an instructor at the Bangor YMCA for a little more than three years, I have become a strong proponent for water safety. Growing up in Maine, I had the privilege of being part of a family that valued swim lessons at a young age, but I was surprised to discover that many of my friends did not have the same opportunity. Although swim lessons are an additional expense and time commitment, their negative factors are few when compared to the value of a child’s life.

Swim lessons, especially in Maine, are a necessary part of overall safety. They offer an encouraging environment, teach boat safety, and help children develop a positive relationship with the water. Children are educated about dangers such as hypoxic blackout, the practice of holding one’s breath competitively and repetitively for long periods of time, which can be fatal. Such a valuable tool should be available to families of all incomes, and institutions such as the Bangor YMCA offer financial assistance for qualifying individuals.

Swim lessons are a fundamental part of a child’s ability to safely enjoy Maine’s vast and watery landscape.

Juliette Thompson


No war with Iran

Several war powers resolutions are being considered by Congress to rein in the man in the White House. The U.S. had no business assassinating Qassem Soleimani. In my opinion, this is a war crime. Being a “nation of laws” where we have “trial by jury,” and “innocent until proven guilty,” there is never a justification to kill people. Especially leaders of other countries. Especially with drones. War hawks and now President Donald Trump have been relentlessly provoking Iran. Unless you and I contact our representatives and put a stop to wars of aggression, millions more people in the Middle East will suffer.

The U.S. sets many records: We are the world’s largest arms exporter. We spend the most on war. We have the most military bases in other countries. We spy on our citizens and the world at large. We regularly use this massive apparatus to make the wealthy of our nation even richer. And still, we have the highest per-capita prison population, with millions in poverty and without health care. I’m ashamed.

Our power and wealth have been squandered. We could have used our strength to create world peace, a sustainable planet and a fair society. It is not too late. We need to be strong and clear. Support Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Ro Khanna and Rep. Ilhan Omar with legislation that would bar any Pentagon funding for “unauthorized use of military force against Iran.”

James Merkel


The decision to smoke

The BDN’s recent article regarding the increase in the legal age to buy tobacco has been of considerable interest to me. When President Donald Trump signed the law regarding tobacco sales, I thought that was final. I did not think that the government was going to make the legal age 21 no matter the individual’s date of birth. I find both sides to the argument compelling, and I actually agree with both.

First is the side that is pushing for this age increase. These individuals are pushing for that increase due to smoking-related illnesses. The issue of teenagers with smoking-related illnesses came into the spotlight when the media displayed teenagers in the hospital due to smoking a Juul, and how some were suing Juul for their fruity flavors aimed at young smokers.

I am going to be honest, I started smoking at age 20. I would have never started smoking if I didn’t find a fruity flavored pod, because I don’t like the taste of tobacco. Even though some states have increased the smoking age, many teenagers are already smoking, so they are just going to find other ways to get them. So how much of a difference is it really going to make?

The other side of the argument claims that at age 18, individuals should be able to make the decision for themselves, since that is the age of becoming a legal adult. I have seen many people claim that if an individual can go and enlist in the Army, then why can’t they make the decision to smoke a cigarette? If a person is old enough to legally kill a terrorist, they should be able to make the decision to smoke.

Jenna Legere