Jan. 21, 1833: In Winthrop, Ezekiel Holmes (1801-1865) publishes the first issue of a long-running newspaper that eventually will become known as the Maine Farmer. Kennebec Journal co-founder Russell Eaton buys the newspaper in 1844 and moves it to Augusta, where it operates for another eight decades.

Holmes, dubbed “the father of Maine agriculture,” also helps establish the University of Maine and serves multiple terms in the Maine House of Representatives and the Maine Senate.

“To Ezekiel Holmes more than to any other one man the University of Maine owes its existence as a separate institution, and to him more than any other one man Maine agriculture owes a debt for its progress before and for many years after the Civil War.” — Clarence A. Day, Holmes’ biographer.

Jan. 21, 2013: Poet Richard Blanco, 45, of Bethel, recites his poem “One Today” in the public phase of President Barack Obama’s second-term inauguration in Washington, D.C.

Poet Richard Blanco reciting his poem “One Today” at the second inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2013. Associated Press

Blanco, born in Spain as the son of Cuban exiles, moved to New York when he was only weeks old. Though educated as an engineer at Florida International University, he returned there to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing in 1997. His first book of poetry, “The City of a Hundred Fires,” published in 1998, received the University of Pittsburgh’s Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize.

Blanco traveled extensively after that, teaching along the way. He resumed his engineering career in 2004 in Florida, then moved to Bethel. After his move to Maine, he won the Maine Literary Award for Poetry in 2012 and other accolades. Obama chose him as the fifth person – and first immigrant, first gay person, and first Latino – to deliver a presidential inaugural poem.

Addressing the multitude on the National Mall, Blanco ends his poem with these words:

“We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always – home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country – all of us – facing the
stars
hope – a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it – together”

Joseph Owen is a retired copy desk chief of the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. He can be contacted at: [email protected]

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