As a military veteran, I am compelled to express my opinion about a recent change made by the secretary of state regarding Maine veteran license plates. On Nov. 28 I went to Augusta City Hall to renew the registration on my car. I have proudly displayed the Maine veteran license plate for many years on my vehicle. I was told I could not renew the existing plate and had to get a new plate — apparently all current veteran plates will be phased out at renewal to a newly designed plate.

Here lies the problem. First, I was upset the plate I have had for many years was now illegal and needed to be replaced with a new plate. There was not an option to keep the old plate on my car. If I wanted to keep the existing plate number, I would have pay excise tax at City Hall and then go to a Department of Motor Vehicles office and “apply” for that number plus pay an additional $15.

OK — I not impressed with this option.

I then asked to see what the new plate looked like and a customer service representative brought one out for me to see. I was not impressed at all. It has a bright red stripe across the top and bottom with a blue area in the upper left corner with three stars — great colors, but I feel it lacks artistic creativity. The plate is not discrete at all. I had hoped to see some creativity, like the standard chickadee plate or the Maine agriculture plate. Maine has numerous vanity plate designs that are very creative and very appealing. What happened here?

As a veteran, I am proud to display a plate to show pride in my service and the service of all veterans. It has been nice to have a subtle plate to differentiate veterans from other drivers. I personally do not want a plate that goes over the top and makes it stand out and say, “Look at me — I’m different.” I am sure the cost of the new design was not cheap and I’d like to think some thought went into it.

Maybe I am all wet here, but I want to put this out there for other veterans to think about before they go to renew their veteran plates or apply for a new veteran plate. I encourage you to search on the internet for Maine license plates to view some of the current and past designs the state has come up with and compare them to this new plate.

I doubt anything can be done at this point. I am disappointed about this mandated change by the state. I chose not to renew my veteran plate and went with the standard chickadee plate.

I know there are a lot more import things going on in the world but I felt I needed to express my opinion about this change. The staff at Augusta City Hall were great but had limited options to offer.

Good luck with your vehicle registration, and God bless.

Jeff Choate lives in Augusta.

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