Like many of you, I have relatives who fought for this country. They risked everything to protect us and the values that make America great.

My father, who served overseas four years in World War II, believed those values included the overarching freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness. He died in 1974, but I wonder what he would think of how American values have changed. We still have freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly; freedom from search and seizure; and the right to bear arms. But the basic right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has been replaced with wealthy people’s desire for more wealth. Their interests have hijacked our political system away from common-sense basics of healthy air, water, streams and forests, public lands, a sustainable ocean fishery and a stable climate. Some would lead us to think that maintaining a healthy environment is an economic drain, but Montanans know better. Our top economic industries —agriculture, timber, fishing, skiing, outdoor and tourism — all depend on public lands and a healthy environment, and construction related to clean energy and growth is next-most important.

We must convince state and federal legislators that no matter their party, our basic needs and rights must come first. Please call Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester and Rep. Greg Gianforte and tell them: Montanans depend on and value our public lands and healthy environment; a transition to clean energy supports jobs, our values and way of life and our children’s future.

Rita Rozier