The Star-Herald

Reflections on 50-mile Kennedy legacy hike in Aroostook

To the editor:

Five long years ago, on Aug. 31, 2013, four intrepid men and one wonder woman boldly and locally bid to revive the spirit of the New Frontier declared by the late President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and accented by the initial march of then-Attorney General Robert “Bobby” Kennedy.

         Setting off at about 4 a.m. from a remote corner of Houlton/Littleton on the doorsteps of the United Baptist Church, Lawrence Berz (Francis Malcolm Science Center), Dr. Arthur Selander (Caribou), Dr. Narayana Prasanna (Presque Isle) Lillian Costello (MSSM), and Grier Ostermann (MSSM) undertook and accepted the challenge of a non-stop stomp over the course of 50 miles along Routes 1 and 1A, ending by 10 p.m. or so at the friendly confines of the Maine School of Science and Mathematics (MSSM) in Limestone.

As leader of the squad, I can confidently affirm that those nearly 18 hours on the road offered an awakening of mind, body, and spirit which remain personally and professionally unmatched. Through little Littleton to the heart of bubbly Bridgewater, on through merry Mars Hill, into the potato hillsides of emerald Easton, taking “5” at the Malcolm Science Center (reinforced by additional MSSM school marchers), unto the darkening skies over friendly Fort Fairfield, and finally onward to the edge of all we hold dear, the team triumphantly sent its victors to a waiting throng of students, faculty, staff, and support back in Limestone.

        The odyssey also celebrated the success and necessity of teamwork, dreamwork, endurance, courage, and perseverance as “wagon masters” held the reins for all material necessities and safety along the route — former MSSM Executive Director Luke Shorty, current Dean of Faculty Deborah McGann (and her dog Millie) as well as former faculty Instructor of Spanish James Tourellas and his wife Linda. WAGM-TV as well as the local newspaper media, and even NPR held and offered recognitions of this unique outing. Our bid to invite the late Sen. Robert Kennedy’s wife Ethel to honor our efforts regrettably met with no reply.

Nevertheless, the stunning success and support of this peculiar and passionate adventure still resonates with all those whose energy, time, and effort meant so much to the crew. If the 50-mile hike served only as a small notch or addendum in the historical legacy of the Kennedy New Frontier as well as Aroostook local historical horizon, then I would say, “Huzzah,” and keep living your personal and professional  dream, everyone.

Lawrence Berz

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