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Fecteau: I Missed Rhode Island

Saturday, July 15, 2017


Matt Fecteau

After serving overseas in the United States Army, I have come home – hopefully for good. Military life is tough, but I wouldn’t have such esteem for Rhode Island without serving in these faraway lands.

While I was deployed, Rhode Island and its amazing people were never far from my thoughts. After seeing other places, meeting various people, and being immersed in their culture, I ended up even more certain that Rhode Island is a wonderful place to live. As Rhode Islanders, we may have differences, but at the end of the day, many just seek to make our state a better place; no other place on earth can compare – believe me, I traveled a little.

While overseas, I lived on an austere compound in Kuwait, at times traveling to various countries across the Middle East, making memories to last a lifetime. The brutal heat – at one point it was 129 degrees – was unforgiving, and the constant demands of a changing mission were challenging.

While difficult to be so far from home, it was incredible watching history unfold before my eyes. I can see why we have the best military in the world. Our soldiers are trained to maintain discipline and serve in conditions that would make other foreign service members balk (e.g. simply showing up to train in this ungodly heat). More than ever, I am proud to be a U.S. military member, serving among heroes.

As Rhode Islanders, we tend to take for granted our great state with such vibrancy and diversity. However, nothing makes you appreciate your community and the people more than being so far from home sometimes hostile areas.

I look forward to immersing myself in the Rhode Island experience. I will drink some coffee milk (a rarity anywhere else) and see the beautiful Waterfire. I am going to have some clam cakes and chowder, wander around Slater Mill, and see lovely Federal Hill. I might even eat a donut at Allie’s, and relax on our gorgeous beaches. For years, I’ve promised myself I’d learn to surf – now I finally take the time to do it on our state’s beautiful beaches.

There are serious political issues that need to be addressed such as the high taxes and the pervasive corruption, but serving overseas, I realize our imperfect state is a place I am ever more passionate about. We have a unique, colorful culture that makes our state one of the most exceptional places throughout the world. No matter our complaints, Rhode Island represents the best our country has to offer.

It feels strange being home. While this isn’t a movie, I do have a happy ending of sorts – should I say new beginning? While I am not technically back in Rhode Island, I will be a little closer now, just 40 minutes north. I have the honor of attending Harvard University, a place I called my second home for decades. I will be attending Harvard University’s prestigious Kennedy School of Government for a Master of Public Policy. Attending Harvard has been a dream of mine for some time, and I’m honored that I’ll be able to call Harvard University my alma mater.

Home is where the heart is, and Rhode Island is a place that I am honored to come back with more pride than ever.


Matt Fecteau (Matthew.Fecteau@gmail.com) of Pawtucket, Rhode Island was a Democratic candidate for office in 2014 and 2016. He is a former White House national security intern and Iraq War veteran. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewFecteau   


Related Slideshow: RI Democrats React to Trump Withdrawing from Paris Climate Agreement

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Gina Raimondo

RI Governor

I am deeply disappointed that the President has decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. Republicans and Democrats alike recognize that the Paris Agreement is about so much more than climate change. It’s about opportunity, stewardship and America’s standing as a global leader. 

President Trump’s action will not deter Rhode Island from taking necessary steps to address climate change. Our action at the state level will create new jobs and attract new investment in the green economy. 

We’ve set a goal to secure 1,000 MW of clean energy resources and double the number of clean energy jobs by 2020. Ocean State families and businesses are on the front lines fighting climate change. I will continue toward with the General Assembly and partners in other states to protect our environment and advance clean energy alternatives, while creating new opportunities for our workforce in the process. 

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Jim Langevin 

U.S. Congressman

President Trump’s ill-considered decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement puts the future of our entire planet at risk. The withdrawal represents an abandonment of pledges to protect our environment and risks undermining the entire accord, which includes nearly every country on earth. In addition, the President’s action cedes Unites States leadership and means losing a seat at the table to negotiate global agreements in our country's best interest.

The Obama Administration made significant progress toward slowing the rapidly warming climate by negotiating the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce greenhouse emissions on a global scale. Unwinding these commitments represents another assault by President Trump on the health of the public and the planet. His Administration continues to deny climate change despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that shows this is an ongoing human-caused crisis.

Rhode Island is on the front lines of sea level rise, and our citizens will ultimately pay the price for inaction today. Communities like my hometown of Warwick are particularly vulnerable to the storms and floods that come with climate change. Warming seas have chased our traditional catch out of our fisheries and threaten to decimate our beloved Ocean State coastline. Abandoning the Paris deal, the culmination of a multi-year effort by world leaders, is an abdication of our responsibility to leave the world a better place for our children.”

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Sheldon Whitehouse

U.S. Senator

“Donald Trump and his children said just a few years ago that climate change was ‘irrefutable’ and its consequences ‘catastrophic and irreversible.’ They were right. There is no denying the growing threat of rising seas, warming global temperatures, and melting glaciers and ice sheets. 

But we can still avoid the worst if we quickly reduce carbon emissions. That is why ignoring reality and leaving the Paris Agreement could do down as one of the worst foreign policy blunders in our nation’s history, isolating the U.S. further after Trump’s shockingly bad European trip. 

Trump is betraying the country, in the service of Breitbart fake news, the shameless fossil fuel industry, and the Koch brothers’ climate denial operation. It’s Sad. 

America’s biggest corporations and investors urged the President to stick with international efforts to address the climate threat. They and all of us will now have to proceed with a seriousness of purpose commensurate with the threat, knowing of this President’s grave defects. 

If you haven’t joined an environmental group, join one. If your voice needs to be heard, get active. If you are a big corporation with good climate policies that has shied away from engaging politically, it’s time to engage. And if you’re a university that teaches climate science, it’s time to stand up for your scientists. Whoever you are, help end climate denial and take action.”

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Jack Reed

U.S. Senator

“President Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris climate agreement is a blow to the environment that makes us a less secure nation. Our military, which spends every hour of every day thinking about how to protect Americans says climate change is a problem and a real threat multiplier. Indeed, climate change is an established part of the military’s threat and risk assessments.

The United States should continue to be a leader when it comes to protecting the planet; instead, the President is abdicating this responsibility. President Trump is unwisely putting the United States alongside Syria and Nicaragua in declining to be part of the Paris agreement. 

The American people deserve better.” 

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David Cicilline

U.S. Congressman

The President’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement is a terrible mistake. It will diminish American leadership in the world, undermine our ability to create good-paying jobs, and contribute to the further degradation of our environment. 

It is very disappointing that we now know, without question, that the President of the United Sates is a climate change denier. His decision today ignores the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding the serious consequences failing to address climate change. 

The only thing President Trump will accomplish by this decision is to set the United States and world back decades in this fight. I have no doubt that future generations are going to wonder what the hell we were thinking today”


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