As Memorial Day weekend is upon us, it’s important to reflect on the true meaning of the day and what is being done to support those who put their lives on the line. It’s easy to take the weekend for granted as just an additional day off, but we must not lose sight of the heroes among us.
I come from an extended military family. Cousins, uncles, grandfathers, you name it, I have a family member who has served in various branches of the Armed Forces in various wars and conflicts. It makes me proud that they have chosen this particular way of serving our country.
While we can always do better in society on this front, there is good work taking place in our community to support our veterans.
For instance, we have some exciting news in Old Orchard Beach. Veterans will now be able to park for free, with their veterans plates clearly displayed, in any town lot or space with a parking meter on Memorial Day itself.
Memorial Day weekend is usually the official start to the summer tourism season, so naturally it’s a time to put up the parking meters. The least we could do on the day itself is to let veterans park for free. After all, the parade and the ceremonies are for them and honoring the memory of their fallen comrades.
This week the Masons, Saco Lodge No. 9, delivered dozens of bikes to students at Fairfield, Young, and Burns schools for the third year in a row.
I was honored to be there alongside the Masons as the bikes were randomly distributed at school assemblies to some very deserving kids. It was especially neat to see how the kids cheered for their fellow peers even when they knew they weren’t going to get a prize. It demonstrated that it wasn’t just about them, but about seeing their friends succeed and be happy – such an important life lesson for all.
The Saco Bikes for Books program achieves two very important missions. Number one it promotes childhood literacy and gets kids excited for reading tangible books. Young School, for instance, reads a combined total of well over 500 books. Keep in mind this is above and beyond any work currently being done in the classroom. Number two it gets kids outside. In this day and age of smart phones and eyeballs glued to some type of device, these bikes represent a catalyst to get outside, breathe the free air and smell the roses. Ok, maybe not that last one, but you get the point. It’s the idea of being kids again and not reliant on technology to keep yourself entertained.
This all culminates into the Saco Community Bike Rodeo this Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Saco Public Works Facility on North Street. It’s a fun, free, family event with bike safety checks, a bike course, helmet safety station with free fittings, Touch a Truck, raffles, wellness vendors and and more. The kids who won bikes at school can pick them up and everyone is encouraged to bring their bikes to participate. If you would like to donate a bike or scooter or nonperishable food, organizers will be collecting donations to distribute to those in need. I’ll be there with Saco Main Street, so be sure to stop by and say hello.
Beyond the Headlines
Weekly Column featured in The Biddeford-Saco-OOB Courier Newspaper by Rep. Justin Chenette of Saco