A Time of Loss: Commemorating National POW/MIA Recognition Day

Sun, 09/20/2020 - 8:00pm

Rep. Vicki Doudera spoke in Camden Sept. 18, on the Village Green, during the MIA-POW Recognition Day. Her remarks follow:

We are in a period in which we are experiencing loss on many fronts.

Fires raging in California, Oregon and Washington have consumed millions of acres of forest – to date, more than 5 million acres have been lost. These catastrophic blazes have led to the loss of countless homes and businesses – and thirty lives.  As well as the loss of communities and wildlife habitat, residents of the west coast have lost something we here in Maine take for granted -- the ability to go out their doors and breathe clean air.

In some places – thankfully not all – Americans have lost the ability to listen and communicate with people who have different viewpoints. We seem to have lost the belief that we need to treat everyone with kindness and dignity. We seem to have lost our faith in the golden rule – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. 

We are suffering loss to due climate change; of our ability to depend on summers without air conditioning and snowy winters. We are seeing the loss of species.  Even our beloved birds are at risk.  Two-thirds of North American birds are at increasing risk of extinction due to global temperature rise. Extinction is a loss that can never be reversed.

And then there is the pandemic. The World Health Organization says that as of today there have been 942,735 deaths worldwide due to COVID-19.  In the United States, the virus has caused 198,000 people to lose their lives.  And today, 138 Mainers have died.  

These losses have impacted families and communities around the globe. But the losses of the pandemic have not only been losses of life.

Since March, we’ve lost our day to day routines.  We’ve lost the ability to have celebrations, rituals – marriages, funerals, church services, pancake breakfasts.  As we head into fall, we continue to mourn the loss of all of these milestones --  as well as our ordinary social experiences which make our lives here so rich.

I look around and I see that we are all doing our best, but, as Dr. Shah said months ago, we are grieving.  Our hearts are full of loss.

Today we think about the families who are no stranger to loss as we commemorate National POW/MIA Recognition Day. 

The families of the men and women whose names we will hear today know all about loss, because they have experienced the worst kind. The kind when you do not know what has happened to your loved one. The kind that comes with the chance that you many never, ever know.  We ponder today the kind of loss that is not just of a person – a husband, father, brother, son, wife, mother, sister,  or daughter – but of the opportunity – the privilege – of being able to put that person to rest. 

Perhaps today, because our hearts are already experiencing grief, perhaps today more than at any other time in recent history, we can begin to feel what the families of these honored service members have felt. Perhaps today we can listen to the names of our Maine MIA’s and POW’s and realize that they were all people who mattered deeply to their families, friends and communities.  We can be grateful for their service, but we can also make the commitment that as we grieve for them, that we will never forget them, nor their actions on behalf of our nation.  And as we feel their loss today, let us also pledge to work toward a world of peace, so that this dark time in our history can bring us into the light.