My grandparents immigrated to central Maine and settled on two small Somerset County farms in the 1890s and proceeded to raise typical, large farm families. Together they gave me 15 aunts and uncles sprinkled across northern New England and two very loving parents.

They are all gone, resting in small cemeteries throughout central Maine. They lived through World War II, Korea, Vietnam and more. Seven served in the U.S. armed services, some in the very thick of it, some in support roles, all in defense of their country and our way of life. After serving they came home to live normal Maine lives. After high school I left Maine for college but have spent much of my adult life visiting all of them, caring for some and attending the funerals of nearly all of them.

I try to visit their graves whenever I am in Maine. It is startling how easy it is to find the headstones of other young Mainers, those who died in the Civil War, buried in these cemeteries. Many of these young Maine boys had volunteered to serve in place of wealthy Union draftees in exchange for a cash payment to support their parents and to help keep their family’s cash poor farms afloat.

Our shared, extended Maine families and these Civil War soldiers are true Patriots who offered their all to defend their families, our Union and our democratic country. They did not make that sacrifice to simply pave a path for a 21st century American dictatorship.

This year ahead will tax all of us. As we move toward election day ask yourself why your relatives and mine and thousands of young Maine boys put their lives on the line to preserve our union and our democracy. We must honor their sacrifice.

Linwood Lloyd

Palm Springs, California

Madison Community High School, class of 1965

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