A screenshot of the BDN opinion pages from May 28, 2004. Credit: Courtesy of the Bangor Daily News

The BDN Editorial Board operates independently from the newsroom, and does not set policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com.

After a 17-year hiatus, the next brood of cicadas is back with a buzz.

A lot has changed in the world while these insects were literally living under a rock. They have plenty of news to catch up on. But their reemergence also has us looking back, thinking about what the world looked like the last time they were above ground.

Luckily, the Bangor Daily News archives, dating back to 1911, are now available on Newspapers.com (note: a separate subscription is required to fully access and search them there). So with the cicadas coming back above ground for the first time in 17 years, we thought we’d dig back to the May 28, 2004, edition of the BDN. Here’s what we found:

Other than a George Danby cartoon of former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and some letters to the editor related to the then-ongoing Iraq war, many of the issues discussed on the opinion pages could easily be found on our pages today.

The editorial board, for example, weighed in on postal reform working its way through the U.S. Congress and on the permitting of wind projects (kudos to the headline writer who came up with “A Wind Win Situation”). Either of those subjects might be discussed in a present-day editorial, with a new postal reform bill again up for debate and the need — and ability — to balance alternative energy development with local concerns.

A 17-year-old letter from Michelle Thomas of Bangor titled “Greatest Generation” could run again today almost word-for-word as we head toward another Memorial Day, except for a line about the World War II monument in Washington, D.C. being new.

“As we approach Memorial Day weekend and all of the celebrations surround the new World War II monument in Washington, D.C., let’s remember why we call those veterans ‘The Greatest Generation.’ We call them that because they served and sacrificed for our nation in a war,” Thomas wrote. “Those who returned from the experience built a mighty nation. No generation has ever worked harder.”

In another letter from the May 28, 2004, edition, Tom Shay of Presque Isle addressed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I’m afraid we will not have peace until we have the strength to call for ‘Justice for All’ and the ability and grit to stick with it,” Shay wrote, with words we wouldn’t be surprised to see in a letter sent to us in current times. “It is not too late, we should speak up and demand better of our leadership. They have forgotten the importance of justice as the foundation on the road to peace and community.”

Even the “Other Voice” from the Straits Times in Singapore has strong parallels to today. That piece focused on the inauguration speech from then-Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian, and how its semantics annoyed China. Seventeen years later, professional wrestler John Cena is in the news after he apologized to Chinese fans for the supposed transgression of — wait for it — calling Taiwan a country.

Clearly, many of the issues at play in 2004 continue to echo through the world today. Sure, some of the details and people are different, but when it comes to the overarching topics we saw in the archives, there is a fairly strong “the more things change, the more they stay the same” vibe.

So as the cicadas reemerge, if the BDN opinion pages from May 28, 2004, are any indication, the world doesn’t look too different than it did 17 years ago.

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The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...