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Honor those who gave their lives for our country

Published May 31, 2004

Re: Memorial Day.

With the country so wrapped up in politics, I wonder if we will we take time today to remember what the day really is and why it was declared a national holiday.

We are in the midst of a conflict that many Americans are opposed to. Even the people who support the country in this fight against oppression and terrorism are not thrilled with the fact that so many of our men and women in the service of the country are risking their lives to restore order and bring freedom to people less fortunate than we.

Whether you are for or against the events taking place in the world today, try to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day. At some time during the day take the time to show the respect and dignity owed to the many valiant and honorable men and women who gave their lives in the service of our country so we can continue to be free.

Remember also all the courageous men and women who now serve our country here at home or around the world. Regardless of your political or personal beliefs, support our men and women in our armed forces. They need and deserve our positive support and respect.

-- Don Murphy, Clearwater

Remember our veterans every day

I propose that, in addition to the annual Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations, we try to remember and honor every day of the year these noble individuals who served our country. This might seem like lot to do every day until you remember that, without their considerable sacrifices, we would be living every day under extremely different and adverse conditions. It is the patriotic obligation of all of us to continually show our appreciation to these veterans who have fought to preserve our American way of life. With the present situation going on in the Middle East, more veterans will be coming home and more emphasis should be put on their welfare.

-- Marjorie Hodge, Gainesville

Nations should work together for peace

Memorial Day is a time to honor all armed service personnel who were killed in every war this country was engaged in. Americans today are especially focused on our military people who are being killed almost daily in Iraq. Parades and celebrations for the sacrifices these men and women make are a measure of one's love for them and our homeland. These brave people died to help preserve America in the long run from the enemy peril.

I am an Army veteran, and I thank my military service for helping to make me feel and think in a patriotic way. I think many G.I.s feel the same way.

Unfortunate, oppressed nations of the world who are threatened by hostile nations must be helped. But breaking worldwide enemy terror with our own hands alone is not realistic. The United States has limits. We alone cannot prevent the rise of nuclear bombs and weapons of mass destruction in the general hierarchy of nations. We, and other freedom loving nations must build a noncorrupt, viable United Nations that can thwart invaders and promote world justice. Devastating consequences await humanity if it doesn't act together to promote world peace and prosperity for all nation states.

-- Robert B. Fleming, St. Petersburg

Military people deserve better treatment

Let us honor and thank all of our military personnel: those who are veterans who risked their lives for our freedom, and those who are currently laying their lives on the line by virtue of being in active military or in the Reserves.

My family has several members who are either veterans or are currently on active military. One is in Iraq now. My brother's "gift" from Vietnam is prostrate cancer, which is linked to Agent Orange used in that war. He has to wait weeks, even months to get into the VA hospital for treatment. I believe he would be in better condition were he able to receive more prompt service. Many military families struggle on low income; this is true for many reservists sent to Irag who left better paying jobs.

Many of our veterans are homeless. Many struggle with mental illness even while psychotropic drug availability is reduced. We simply cannot continue to ignore and mistreat our military friends while the majority of America lives comfortably.

I am ashamed to be part of a population that doesn't honor and treasure soldiers who have risked and are risking their lives for us. As for me, I pledge to find ways that I can better honor them: by sending more care packages overseas, making more donations to the veterans, and voting in ways that will honor and not endanger our military.

I challenge you to do the same!

-- Susan Schubert, Tampa

The war effort, then and now

At last we have a memorial to the veterans of World War II and, although long overdue, it is impressive. This memorial is dedicated not only to the veterans but to all those of the World War II generation. I was only 7 years old when the war ended, but I remember a lot of things about it, such as rationing and Liberty Bonds. Coffee, sugar and gasoline were not the only items rationed, so families had to find ways to stretch their ration points or to substitute unrationed fruits, vegetables and meats to maintain a healthy diet. Everyone was encouraged to buy Liberty Bonds to help finance the war.

Today we are at war again, and those who are fighting are just as capable, committed and determined to win as those of World War II. Someday there will be a memorial to them, but I wonder if it will be dedicated to the good work they did in spite of the people back home who constantly criticize their accomplishments while claiming to support the troops.

It seems only bad news makes the news, but I believe the media owe us the good news as well. A weekly column on the achievements in Iraq and Afghanistan - perhaps with pictures of new schools or the improvements made to hospitals, or perhaps the daily interaction of soldiers and townspeople - would give us a more balanced view. How can we expect other countries to respect us and support us if our own news media do nothing but malign us?

-- Carolyn Woodard, St. Petersburg

Don't forget Bob Dole's role

Re: WWII memorial is generation's touchstone, May 24.

I was positively appalled - no, shocked - that former Sen. Bob Dole's name was not mentioned even a single time in this story that appeared on the front page of the St. Petersburg Times.

How could anyone not be informed that Bob Dole, the national chairman of the World War II National Memorial Society, was among the original founders of the World War II Memorial? He was, without a doubt, among those who nurtured this tremendous project.

And lest we forget, Bob Dole was a decorated Army veteran who was wounded in battle during that great war and, as a result, had to live all these years with a maimed body.

The Times should be congratulated for this front-page story printed just days before the National World War II Memorial dedication.

-- Jack Keller Sr., World War II combat veteran, 8th Air Force, charter member, World War II National Memorial Society, Belleair Bluffs

Korean veterans again overlooked

At this time, may we honor our fathers and older brothers and sisters who fought the war of the "greatest generation." We Korean War veterans will be ever grateful for their sacrifices for our freedom. Some 400,000 G.I.s died in that war. It is about time that they are honored and remembered with a World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

In the Korean War (1950-53 ) 34,000 G.I.s gave their lives for the same purpose, but it is called "the forgotten war." Even today, the Korean War Memorial in Washington is often overlooked. The May 24 map and diagram of the World War II Memorial, with information from the American Battle Monuments Commission, shows the locations of the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial along with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. But not shown is the Korean War Memorial, which is in the same area as the other memorials. Is it any wonder why it will go down in American history as the "forgotten war"?

The Korean vets will never forget.

-- Joe Sheehan, Redington Beach

Faith fueled Jack Eckerd

Last week Clearwater and the nation lost a great citizen, businessman, family man and friend who really appreciated God in a very beautiful way. The death of Jack Eckerd has had an impact on many lives in our community, in this state and nation.

Many of the facts of Jack's life have been discussed in recent newspaper articles. However, as friends of his for many years, we were able to witness a special side of Jack. The well known businessman was an energetic individual who mingled in the highest circles of politics and business. Jack was introduced to social Christianity and the basic ideas of God as the creator at an early age, but learned to be grateful and appreciate who Christ really is later in life, after he had gone to one of Dick Whitman's Bible studies. Jack became faithful, fervent and focused in his commitment to the Lord. His ability to appreciate and act upon that appreciation is what helped make him such a great and valuable person in our community. The most amazing aspect of the change in Jack was how his appreciation of God allowed him to appreciate everything and everyone else in a greater way.

We owe much gratitude to Jack Eckerd for his generosity of time, resources and kindness to all. His legacy will live on in the lives of the thousands upon thousands he impacted in his youth camps, in prisons, in businesses and politics. What we saw in this remarkable man was a love for the hurting and suffering among us; his heart broke over things which break God's heart.

-- James P. Gills, M.D., Tarpon Springs

A fitting sendoff

Re: His calling was compassion, May 22.

I have been a reader of the Times for a number of years. I want to say that the article concerning Father Gerry Murphy was a fine, outstanding piece of work. I knew Father Murphy for a number of years and this summed up his ministry so well.

Too often we pick up the paper and find negative articles about the Catholic Church or people who are in it. It is so refreshing to see a positive approach such as this write-up. I suggest you do more of this kind of reporting. Thank you!

-- Father David A. Banks, Homosassa

Insightful advice

Re: Many battles ahead for black graduates, May 26.

Once again, Bill Maxwell has written an insightful column. Since he was unable to deliver his remarks in person, I hope they are passed on and on to all young people of all ethnicities. His advice could lead to fruitful and rewarding lives for all.

Add to that the article Youth groups rally against Midtown violence and it gives one a heartwarming feeling that, just maybe, all will be right in our community. These young people are to be congratulated for pursuing a positive aspect for their own lives, as well as encouraging those around them.

-- Shirley M. Day, St. Petersburg

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[Last modified May 30, 2004, 23:56:21]


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