Old News Archive

Maine Trucks Roll On DC

May 15, 2008 - TRC

Where do I start ? There is so much to tell you. I can only hope to do justice to this miraculous part of American history. What a spectacular memory.

The Coalition to Lower Fuel Prices In Maine began as one determined voice on a tired Friday afternoon and has grown largely in part to the faith of Maine people. People who want more from life, for themselves, their families, their state and their nation. People who believe that at this point you need to join together, stand up and be heard. People who believe that the new mentality is “ together we can and will make a difference”. As Roman poet Virgil said,“They can because they think they can”.

To join in the roll on the nation’s capitol was a given from the very minute we heard there was a plan to do so. Why ? Because it is extremely crucial that our nation’s leadership hear and understand that, “we the people” are insisting on better for ourselves, our families, our state and our nation. That they hear and understand that they are our public servants, whose job in the legislative sector is to represent each of us. And that we expect and deserve a much higher quality of government, an accountable government that is working for the people.

Maine people are absolutely incredible. There was never any doubt that Maine trucks would join the twenty-eight other states trucks representing their state, friends and families. The only question was how in a time when everyone is being so pressed for money, a time when people are being forced to make decisions that they would never have thought they would be making a year or two ago.

This is when work walked in the door to join faith. Kahil Gibran once was quoted as saying, “ Work is love made visible.” Well the Maine people love their state, family and friends and they put that love to work immediately and the results became overwhelmingly visible. Never question the many blessings of living in Maine…just look around you. And a reminder, ' The only place that success comes before work is in the dictionary,' Vidal Sassoon.

The Knights of Columbus took the lead right away, making the first “ Maine Trucks to DC “ fund donation and then immediately following it with a benefit dance, donating the KC Hall and arranging the evenings music to also be provided free of charge by “ Sound FX “ ; Pam & Reg Ogden. Our many, many thanks to the Knights, especially Mr. Mike Ireland who worked diligently to also arrange help and donated raffle items for the evening’s affairs. ( thank you to all those who donated to the evening’s raffle !) Each person involved in the evening deserves a perfect ten as it was a great time for us all. There was $2500. Raised at the door/auction with another $4000.00 walking in the door in donations. Then the Knights loaned us the use of their military flags as well as a new Knights of Columbus flag to fly high on our trip. To let DC know we were all for one and one for all. Others mailed us contributions, giving what they could and believe me every cent was so precious to receive. Albert and I were very humbled by the words and actions of those whom donated, you each filled our spirits and hearts to over flowing. It was you who gave us the mind set we needed.

A big thank you to Dale Hanington of Maine Motor Transport Association for arranging the necessary permits for the Maine registered trucks. And discounting your fees.

Sunday morning came quickly and we were all very excited, nervous and ready to begin our roll on DC but not without the coverage of God and our state.

As the trucks began to gather in Lincoln , Pastor Shaw arrived to bless those involved. His words were so very fitting… “ If Jesus could part the Red Seas when no one though it possible then there was certainly hope that these individuals and the trucks about to roll into DC could also bring about change. “ Amen and amen, Pastor Shaw! Our heartfelt thanks goes out to you. We were indeed blessed.

The blessing of our state also was amongst us as on behalf of Governor Baldacci and Colonel Fleming our Maine convoy received a Maine State Police escort all the way to Kittery. Three very fine Maine State Police Troopers, dividing the route into three sections each leading the way in their section. Great job, gentlemen. Officers : Sgt. Roderick Charette; Troop C and Tpr. Bernard Campbell SP-734 ;Troop G. A special thanks to Lt. Kelly of Maine’s State Police Troop; Commercial Motor Vehicle Enforcement, Troop K and the Major Bessette for joining us in a desire to see complete safety brought to this trip. Thank you all, it was a please to be lead by Maine’s finest and know that our state’s leadership was behind us also.

Leaving Lincoln was amazing. We held great hope in what we were about to do and even greater hope in those who were about to do it. On board for the trip on behalf of Maine were : Senator Elizabeth Schneider, Representatives, Everett McLeod and Jeffery Gifford, Albert & Belinda Raymond, Larry & Charolette Harper, Herbie & Gaynel Brehaut, Travis Brehaut, Billy & Cheryl Tripp, Robert Mc Breairty , Bob Bethune, Floyd Wilcox , Mike of One Way Express and Patty Pascal. They were joined throughout Maine by Larry Sidelinger & Ann, plus two more of Larry’s trucks, Frasier Moody & family, Jim and Sherry Bacon, Donald & Elaine Hayden, Brian & Denise Souers and their daughters, Angela DiMillio of WAGM-TV Presque Isle, Michael King, Shane Kimball, Wayne Kimball and Lenny Murphy. We have no idea how many other Maine trucks were there as DC broke us into two groups. We have received emails from others such as Eric Dashiell that wanted us to know he was there backing us up. Eric is an owner/operator from Hampden. But with each of us went many voices and when meeting with our federal delegates we made sure they knew how many voices that entailed. There was approximately 350 trucks that left Harriburg , PA. not to mention priavte vehicles as well.

We met Congressman Tom Allen in Kennebunk where we gave him a detailed list of Maine’s goals for this trip and he gave us a letter where he has called upon the U.S. Department of Justice’s Attorney General; The Hon. Michael Mukasey for” a formal investigation into price fixing, manipulation ,rampant speculation and other unscrupulous behavior in the petroleum markets “. He praised the Coalition for it’s good works and referred to myself as a “ rebel rouser”. To which I laughed as I have always referred to my husband, Albert as the “Rebel”.

Congressman Allen also presented me with a copy of a letter from U.S. House of Representatives Speaker: Nancy Pelosi to President Bush which her cover fact sheet was entitled , “ American Families Getting Pummeled At The Pump: President Bush Should Work With New Congress to Find Solutions for Hardworking Americans”. citing four major bills that she was requesting the Congress and President to imperiously pass and sign: HR 2264 The No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels ( NOPEC) Act, HR 1252 ;the Energy Price Gouging Act, HR 5351; the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008 and the Market Manipulation Provisions in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. She included a graph showing that in the last eight years oil has gone from $25.88 a barrel to $119.37 a barrel. She entitled it : Bush’s Administration Energy Plan Fails America ; Price of Oil Smashing Records.

Mike of One Way Express could go no further but he wanted to make sure that Patty’s sign that was aboard his truck did so Albert helped him load Patty’s sign onto Albert’s truck. There it would be in the lead so all people would be sure to see it on the trip. Patty’s sign was indeed another blessing as it brought horn honking, thumbs up and “ yah “ solidarity fists all the way to DC. People clapped, pointed and cheered, at corners, intersections, on bridge over passes and even though their sunroofs. Patty indeed brought awareness to our mission. Thank you, Patty. Job well done ! Patty’s sign read : Support Trucks Going To DC To Lower Fuel Prices For Them And Everyone. Thanks Coalition 2008.

We left Kennebunk and our next official stop was Harrisburg , PA. What a reception we received. They had blocked off the roadways with PA trucks, the PA police were clearing the way and over a huge PA system you heard , “ Maine Trucks Have Arrived ! “, as we rolled into the Gable’s Truck Stop. People and trucks were everywhere, cheering, clapping and smiling. They had planned a huge barbeque of which no one touched anything until we arrived at eight thirty Sunday night. But before that would happen they insisted that Coalition leaders speak along with Sen. Schneider. Thanking us all for leading Maine and joining their well organized effort; Truckers & Citizens Unite to take back their government. They had arranged for the whole truck stop for the evening , right down to the store opening early to accommodate us all. High five, PA !!!!! ( While in Harrisburg Congressman Michaud spoke with Sen. Schneider and myself lending his support to our efforts., and inviting us to a meeting with him next week, as he was not in DC . )

At 6 a.m. Monday morning we all joined ranks to roll on DC. Trucks and vehicles came from everywhere. It was indescribable! Wall to wall headlights and tail lights for miles and miles. All sporting flags, comments or special meanings to their states. A trip which should have taken us 2 hours tops took us close to 6 and a half. Again we got the support of the public, horn honking, rolling their windows down to wave, solidarity everywhere. The true spirit of our nation was ablaze ! We were joined also by the taxi cab drivers and dump trucks. Sen. Schneider made a few calls and soon we were waved through weigh stations with their attendants smiling and saluting. Now to the truck drivers that was totally amazing !

Finally we got to DC, we were met with rain but it did not deter people from turning out. Every corner , side street and door stop was filled with people cheering, clapping, taking pictures. Camera crews and photographers were everywhere. The air horns sounded and people held their ears while they jumped up and down. The truck drivers showed their professional skills, with four way flashers glowing, they bobbed and weaved through the people and traffic making their way safely to the Capitol. Lead by DC police. What a sight to see for us all. Overhead the presidential helicopter flew, …it’s passengers, we could only guess. Our presence was well known and well received . DC cops were everywhere, lights flashing but their presence was for the president and government officials as no one in our convoy were anything but respectful and safe. We all will hear air horns for years to come and hear the words , “Brake Check” in our sleep.

We parked at Redskins Field where “ JB” Schaffner ; the American Driver encouraged the crowd to carry a clear message to our government, “enough is enough”. We were covered with reporters and camera crews, word said we began our five mile walk to the Capitol. Our protest signs and flags in hand. It was quite a walk in the DC rain. But that did not dampen our spirits. We were here on behalf of our state, our family and our friends, we pressed onward. Leading the way was a wagon pulled by men carrying a little league team with signs saying , “ No Gas No Baseball “. Protesters included those on crutches such as Gaynel Brehaut who was recovering from knee replacement surgery and a one legged gentleman, both were determined. Rep. Everett McLeod lead a chant of , “ Lower Fuel Prices Is What We Need, If America’s Going To Succeed!” while Rep. Gifford did a great job in leading others in protest messages. Maine could be very proud, their voices again were heard. People hollered from windows and stopped their cars to pay respect to the march and those in it. We all got drenched, yet our spirits soared.

The Maine group entered the Russell Building to attend strategic meetings the Coalition had set up with U.S. Senator Susan Collins, U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe and U.S. Senator Boxer. Maine’s Senator Elizabeth Schneider holding true Maine heart called the President’s office to ask for a meeting with him also, a meeting that did not happen but not for lack of trying. Again Maine could be proud as their voices were heard. Legislative Assistant of Energy and Environment; Patrick Woodcock met us and took us to the offices of Maine’s Federal Delegates. We spoke of what we all needed ; lower fuel prices and twelve other goals and in return our federal delegates shared current legislation, ten point plans to rein in high fuel and the need for ALL of the states citizens to press Congress and the President into action. We must ALL CALL, FAX, EMAIL OR WRITE OUR CONGRESSIONAL & U.S. senate DELGATES as well as our state. They in turn must move our President into action immediately. Two major points are : Closing the Eron Loophole ( Part of the FARM Bill ) and to Eliminate the Speculative Oil Trade On the Market. Congressman Michaud 202-225-6306 and Congressman Allen 202-225-6116. U.S. Senator Snoew 202-224-5344 or
1-800-432-1599 and U.S. Senaor Susan Collins 202-224-2523. Call TODAY !!!

While we were in these meeting the remaining march protestors gathered in the lobby of the Russell building where they to were eventually met by Maine’s federal delegate, U.S. Senator Susan Collins. The crowd found her ten point plan refreshing and are looking forward to immediate implementation of it’s ten steps. Many of which I might add were ours as well.

U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe was excellent. She ordered hot coffee to warm us up, then she gave 100% of her attention to Maine’s constituents. She shared current legislation; the TRUCC ACT and the DIESEL PARIDY ACT, she really listened, instructing her executives on points brought forth and discussed ways in which we could work together for our future’s. She was gracious yet determined. When asked if she heard the convoy, she replied “ Oh yes, oh yes, I heard you and I hope he did . “, referring to President Bush. She posed for pictures with those wishing her too. Thank us all for what we were doing and told Albert and myself , “ You are doing exactly what you need to be doing, keep doing it. I really heard you. “ She then had taxis called to return us all to our trucks and vehicles, as she was appalled that we had walked five miles in the cool rain.

U.S. Senator Boxer’s executive director of transportation met with a few leaders of the Coalition and our State Officials on Maine’s Interstate concerns. ( Senator Boxer had been called away as we arrived late due to the traffic and the walk ) Our messages would be given to U.S. Senator Boxer and others holding up Maine’s Interstate Weight Limits becoming a uniform statewide standard. We will follow up with her as will others who will be in DC in the near future. ( The Forest Resource Association will be in DC next week and Maine Motor Transport will be the second week of June. In the meantime Maine trucking companies, Maine independent owner/operators and Coalition leaders will be meeting with Congressman Michael Michaud next week at his Bangor office.)

Once we arrived back at the Redskins fields we loaded up and some headed straight home while others spent the night in Harrisburg leaving early the next morning for “ HOME “. Yes, what a glorious sight that blue , “ Welcome To Maine “ sign was for our tiring eyes. We bid good bye and safe travel to each truck as they took their own exit homeward. Before our final leg of our trip, we stopped at Dysart’s truck stop to meet Channel 5 for a quick interview and welcome home . Finally we hit the pike north, more horns honking, more waves, more solidarity fists…our lives richer for taking a stance for ALL people.

The big question : “ Did we accomplish anything ? Fuel didn’t drop significantly. “ Well, the next day President Bush addressed the nation blaming Congress , while Congress claims to be a New Working Congress. Did the timing of his address have significance with the Roll on Dc ? You decide. But for all of us and all of those whom supported us who in making a united stand and sending DC a very loud, very proud and very clear message, Yes, we do strongly feel that we have made a difference, together. The wheels of politics move slowly but between all of us and God , we are trying our best to place those wheels on a faster track to saving our nation from the overwhelming greed of those behind this fuel crisis.

As even our federal delegates will tell you, there is no shortage in supply and demand. The shortage is in our pocketbooks to pay the highway robbery prices of everything that is being driven and tolerated way to long by our Presidential Administration. President Bush, if you read this… PLEASE DO YOUR ELECTED JOB ON BEHALF OF ALL THE PEOPLE…. STAND UP AGAINST BIG OIL. To quote Benjamin Franklin , “ Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God. “

To everyone else, a revolution has begun , you can be part of the problem or part of the solution. It is a simple choice to make. Maybe you write, email, fax or call, things that take only a few minutes and have little cost. Maybe you encourage and support those doing God’s work. Maybe you request meetings, join groups standing up for us all or boycott but whatever you do …stand up and be heard in a positive, proactive way. We the people have been oppressed to long, it is time to get our government back on track working not only for us but with us! Many of them will welcome this change also. It will behoove us all to work together for a better tomorrow, a tomorrow we deserve., all of us.

Our greatest dept of gratitude to our Maine legislators who stood up and worked with us all the way on this endeavor : Maine Senator Elizabeth Schneider, Rep. Everett McLeod and Rep. Jeffery Gifford. It was a pleasure to have you all on board.

In closing, what happens when you give a Maine Senator the opportunity to blow an air horn in a rally in DC ? A red light comes on in your dash indicating low air levels as she can certainly blow them and blow them she did , right along with the rest of Maine citizens in their Maine’s trucks and vehicles. God bless you and yours tenfold for delivering Maine’s voices in style and with respect. Safe trails everyone.

Please visit www.coalitiontolowerfuelprices.cfsites.org for footage of our trip and a complete list of sponsors and raffle contributors. Thanks everyone, it is great to be back in Maine. We could not have done it without you ! We are already planning our next step, stay tuned. God’s speed. Hold the faith and keep praying for positive change.

Submitted by Belinda Raymond, Coalition To Lower Fuel Prices Co-Founder

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.