Archive for December 22nd, 2012

Weekly Democratic Address of Senator Colleen Lachowicz (Kennebec): Coming Together After Newtown CT Tragedy

Posted on December 22, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Audio link here.

colleenGood Morning. This is State Senator Colleen Lachowicz from Waterville.

There are events that happen in our lives, in our communities, and in our world that forever change us. And often, as a result, dates become emblazoned in our memory. Words take on new meanings. Conversations shift. And, often communities come together—unifying around our collective experience—our shared emotion.

Last week, America experienced one of our biggest tragedies with the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

The actions of last week were senseless. Incomprehensible. Perhaps leaving all of us with more questions than answers.

But, even in the wake of this tragedy, there are some who will try to divide us by politics. As lawmakers we cannot allow it because that will not heal our communities or make our children any safer.

There is no simple answer. But it is our duty to strengthen our resolve. First, by understanding and then, by addressing the real factors that led to this tragedy. To solve the problem, we have to know what the problem is.

We must slow down. Listen to each other. Collectively we have the wisdom—from law enforcement to educators, mental health providers and family members.

As a school social worker, I have seen tragedy. I work with children every day who have encountered trauma. And as I tell them, I will say to all of us: We cannot let this horrible event define us. But, it must define how we act.

There was not a parent in this state who didn’t hug their child a little longer after Newtown. This week I worked in two schools. I cannot look those children, parents and teachers in the eye without knowing we, as lawmakers, will do everything in our power to take their right to be safe into consideration. We have a duty—a duty to the parents and children of this state to reassure them we are doing everything in our power to keep our children and schools safe. Governor LePage and his administration have done the right thing by calling for a review of safety protocols in Maine’s schools.

But we can’t stop there.

As we continue to process and understand what transpired in Newtown on that fateful day, we must look ahead and ask, what can be different? As a culture, a state, a community, a school, a family.

No matter the viewpoint, we all need to talk with each other respectfully—even when we disagree. We’re in this together. It is true that we will need to examine our existing laws and practices with regard to gun safety. But we need to also do this without demonizing gun owners. It is true we need to look at our mental health system. But we need to do this without stigmatizing mental illness. These are tough issues.

Now is not the time to blame. But it is time to take a deep breath and ask, What’s next?

We are days away from the Christmas holiday. And as we prepare to celebrate with our own families, let’s remember the heroes of last week. The teachers who stand on the front lines each day educating our children—and most critically, on that day, the selfless act of protecting the lives of children. And to the dozens of first-responders. We must be proud of them—because they make us remember what is right in our world. And, to the dozens of acts of kindness and thoughtfulness from people across our nation who buoyed a community in a time of darkness.

Thank you for listening. This is State Senator Colleen Lachowicz from Waterville. Have a good weekend—and a Happy Holiday.

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Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: Holiday Wishes and Reflections

Posted on December 22, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Audio link here.

lepage officeHello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

Celebration and family are at the heart of the holidays. It is a time of giving to those less fortunate, remembering our troops around the world who are fighting to keep us safe, and reflecting on the year gone by.

Ann and I recently had the opportunity to visit one of the most sacred grounds of our nation, Arlington National Cemetery. As the final resting place for more than 400,000 military war casualties and their families, dating back to the Civil War, I, again, was reminded about the true value of freedom. Freedom is not free – it is a privilege bestowed upon us thanks to the bravery and dedicated service of our military members.

It is a humbling experience to walk the rolling hills laying wreaths on the gravestones of America’s heroes. A national shrine, the cemetery is a living history of American freedom.

The names engraved in stone served our nation with dignity and honor. We are forever grateful and treat their families with respect and compassion.

I would like to share a story of one veteran we visited. Before my wife and I left, Ann received a note from a Navy veteran, Gair MacKenzie, from Bridgton, who wrote about the life of Commander Robert Schlegel, of the United States Navy, a shipmate and friend.

Commander Schlegel was born in Gray and was the first Mainer killed as a result of the terrorist act on the Pentagon September 11, 2001. He was 38 years old.

Commander Schlegel’s gravestone is located at Arlington and paid our respects. Ann and I laid a wreath and our family said a prayer. It was a humbling moment we will never forget.

Our Nation lost a great many people, yet our spirit is not broken. We continue to fight in the name of freedom because it is the foundation which our land symbolizes.

On Friday, I spoke by video phone with the 488th Military Police Company from Waterville and Houlton. One hundred Soldiers from the unit are in Afghanistan. They deployed in July and we anticipate their safe return in about six months.

I also spoke with members of Charley Company First of the 126th Aviation from Bangor. The unit, with 79 Soldiers, is in Kuwait. They deployed in May and will return in January.

Additionally, four members of the 121st Public Affairs Detachment are in Kosovo. And one of those members was able to join us.

As you and I are fortunate to celebrate with family and friends, the holidays are especially difficult for families with deployed loved ones. It was an honor to thank them for their service and let them know they are in our thoughts and prayers.

We prayed for many fellow Americans throughout the year and especially in recent days. Let us be thankful as Christmas nears for our family, children, friends and community. In times of tragedy we band together as Americans. 9-11 proved America’s resolve and Sandy Hook is doing the same. We move forward, but we never forget.

God Bless America and I wish you and yours the very best as we head into the New Year.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all.

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