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Letters to the Editors

U.S. must help heal the scars of survivors

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 3, 2000


Editor: Re: Vietnam's scars still linger, 25 years later, April 30 column by Greg Hamilton:

The headline to Hamilton's column says a lot; what it fails to reveal is why.

Could it be that those who weren't there, while acknowledging that only those who were have an unquestioned right to speak about it, continue to solicit stories from Vietnam vets who made it home, and then publishing those stories in a manner that makes for good reading rather than solutions to aid in the healing process? Or could it be man's innate love affair with war that gets us into these periodic skirmishes and then, after the fact, dwells on the good and the bad of it all, for years to come?

When will we put it to rest? And if we can't put it to rest, why not reflect on the whole truth rather than searching for excerpts that fit the agenda of a given story's purpose? What value can be found in printing flashbacks of men dying? What purpose does concluding that those who fought in any particular war did so out of a naive trust in their government, and were fools for believing the rhetoric that sent them off to a less-than-honorable war? What good can come from questioning a parent's pride in a son or daughter who honored the law of the land?

Only the poor participated? In February 1966, my family would have been categorized as middle class. I was in college at the time I received my notice. I honored that notice by entering the Marine Corps and eventually going to Vietnam. I met and fought alongside many Marines who were not considered poor. While, upon reflection, I judge involvement in Vietnam to be a huge mistake, I do not consider myself a fool for participating, rather than running off to Canada or simply saying no and joining Muhammad Ali in a jail cell. Nor do I feel betrayed by those who had political connections that kept them safe at home.

I am disgusted with those who, for political or other reasons, continue to pass judgment on an individual's decision. I also am disgusted with a nation's continued failure to accept responsibility for the results suffered by individual participants who, for their reasons, went off to fight.

Here it is the year 2000 and nothing has really changed. Man remains fascinated with war. Governments, including ours, continue to meddle in the affairs of other countries. Politicians and military leaders continue to be influenced by big businesses looking for another way to make a buck. Justifications, true or false, continue to be invented and marketed like the latest product we can't live without. And men and women go off to die so we can reflect on the right and wrong of it all for years to come.

Lessons learned? None that I can see. We build another monument to the fallen, distinguish some as heroes, and wait for an anniversary date to dredge it all up again.

Should we forget that Vietnam happened? Of course not. But the right or the wrong of it is not the only issue. That we allowed it to happen, after the fact, is not the only issue. The war stories are not what's important. Our responsibilities as a people, besides learning some kind of sensible lessons that will deter recurrence of like events, should be to expose the whole truth of it and shoulder responsibility for the ills suffered by those we sent off to participate.

Be it Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Somalia or any other involvement where we send men and women to fight, it's time we go beyond remembering those who die. It's time we start meeting the needs of those who made it home alive. Only then, will the scars begin to heal.
-- Dave Navarro Sr., Spring Hill

Toll road to Red Level threatens Citrus way of life

Editor: Citrus County, the Nature Coast: rolling hills, trees and wildlife abound. Plenty of open spaces, little traffic, just a wonderful place to live. This is what brought so many of us to this part of Florida to live, work and retire. We left traffic congestion, pollutionand crime for a better way of life.

After the Suncoast toll road is built, it will be too late to complain about the loss of our beautiful rural area. It will be gone forever and with it the reasons so many of us came to settle in Citrus County. Wake up, Citrus, take a good look at Spring Hill and New Port Richey. Is that what you really want happening to Citrus?

The toll road will divide Citrus County. A limited access toll road with three, possibly five, exits within a 26-mile stretch through Citrus County: I wouldn't call that limited access. Parts of this roadway will be elevated as it works its way past the front entrance of Crystal Oaks on State Road 44 in Lecanto, down Maylen Avenue, then swings left over Hajik Path, past the construction and debris landfill on County Road 486 on the east side, then crossing County Road 486 to the Pine Ridge side shortly after the entrance to Pine Ridge, where it turns and follows County Road 486 to the utility poles past the Mini Farms, working its way into Crystal River and then ending at Red Level.

What a brilliant plan: to dump traffic at Red Level, an evacuation route. This road, if built, will disrupt the lives of so many communities in its path.

When we first moved to Florida, we rented a house on Hajik Path in Lecanto. We even thought of buying the house. Thank goodness we did not because the toll road is slated to run next to the pool.

The county commissioners and business sector would have you believe that if this road is not continued from U.S. 98 to Red Level, traffic would be too heavy for our roads to handle. If a road leads to nowhere, the people won't use it, not to mention the price of traveling nowhere.

The commissioners can't wait to get this toll road built. It means more money in their paychecks because our commissioners are paid according to population. If it grows, so do their salaries.
-- Joan Kohler, Pine Ridge

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