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To the Editor: The Bennington Selectboard is considering abandoning the Pledge of Allegiance at its meetings. Has it really come to this? Is there no clearer sign that we are approaching a time when nothing is sacred, when tradition is no longer respected?

This is not respect for our flag or our country. People died to keep us free, and the flag is a symbol of their sacrifice and their courage. To give up the pledge is to disavow that sacrifice and reject what this country stands for.

I miss Lodie Colvin. We disagreed on many things, but Lodie was a great chairperson of our Selectboard. She ran meetings where citizens could speak, ask questions, and get straight answers. She respected tradition and the rights of the people she served. I believe neither she nor others on the board in her years would ever have supported dispensing with the pledge that confirms our patriotism and loyalty to the United States. That would be unimaginable.

It’s tragic that politics now rules government policy to the extent that each new day brings some wild progressive idea to challenge the ways we always acted. Our leaders no longer think first about what’s good for Bennington and its people: they twist themselves into pretzels getting on the right side of “woke” thinking.

That’s more than a distraction from their important work. The board’s real duty is to oversee the running of the town, not to set social policy. The members should set their politics aside before entering a meeting. They aren’t elected as progressives or Republicans or any political party or persuasion. Their sole interest is in making our lives better, ensuring that public moneys are spent wisely and the town’s legal obligations are satisfied.

Watching the board in action is a disappointing experience. You can see this in the way people are treated by the board. The board prefers to hear from the nonprofit organizations that continue to seek advantages (handouts) from the town, often at the expense of the rest of us. 

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Instead of forming a committee and wasting all of this time on whether the board should throw out tradition about our flag, the board should spend its limited time finding ways to lower taxes and water bills, bringing new jobs to town, and supporting those who love this town and respect its traditions.

Imagine if Bennington becomes famous for foolishness like this. We’ll become targets of ridicule and sarcasm. “Oh yes,” they’ll say, “this is the town that won’t say the Pledge of Allegiance.” People will wonder if we haven’t been taken over by socialists and radical activists. Maybe members of the Selectboard think that’s okay, but this kind of thinking doesn’t reflect the values of those who have grown up here and continue to believe in the fundamental virtues of being an American.

The Selectboard has done some stupid things in recent years, and yet this new idea takes the prize. At least I hope this is the worst of it. Who knows what will come next if the board doesn’t get down off its throne and act responsibly.

Mike Bethel,

Bennington


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