"Koering to sponsor bill to name 371 the Purple Heart Memorial Highway" was front page in the Brainerd Dispatch, Sunday, January 9, 2005.
Rather than focusing on a name for 371, let's focus on the real issues facing our National Guard and volunteer forces. More than 10,000 have been wounded, many so horifically that they face a lifetime of medical attention and disability. The Veterans Administration lacks the funding to provide the necessary medical support for U.S. veterans of the Iraq war with blast injuries.
As a veteran of D-Day Normandy in World War II, as a medic, I treated many under fire, many who received purple hearts . Most stayed on the job despite suffering from shrapnel wounds . I opposed the war in Iraq. Those who support the present foreign policy have a responsibility to insure that the V.A. is provided the funding necessary to treat the many disabled from blast injuries .
I feel that naming 371 as the Purple Heart Memorial Highway is a political ploy to gloss over our ill-conceived war.
Robert O. Uppgaard, DDS
Freedom of marriage
I am thankful for the many freedoms I enjoy as an American. Among the freedoms I am most thankful for was the right to meet, fall in love, and get married to a person of my own choosing. I find it disconcerting that some Americans do not have that same right. I find it alarming that our lawmakers are attempting to amend the constitution to ban some consenting adults from getting married.
In a free society, people should be allowed to follow their own consciences in making choices for their own lives. While the choices they make may be different from the choices I might make, the choice still must be theirs and theirs alone. We can no longer call ourselves a free people if our choices are taken from us.
All of us are less free when anyone looses their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. My pursuit of happiness may seem untouched, for I would have followed this path given any other choice, but am still thankful for the freedom I had to make the choice. Every American deserves this same freedom.
Warren L. Case
Too much money for inauguration
Areas of the world (including the U.S.) are suffering from hurricanes, earthquakes, tidal waves etc. causing deaths, sickness, starvation, loss of homes and possessions! Major TV and radio networks are sponsors of shows raising monies for the needy. School children are giving part of their allowances and food money to help the needy! Yet, George W. Bush is going to allow spending $30-$40 million dollars for his inauguration! Very sad and selfish, and in poor taste!
Criticism of U.S. disaster aid
In response to your "U.S. Critics were too hasty" editorial (01/13/05), I remind you that all of us must not be too hasty to judge others' motives.
Granted, it does appear that some were much too hasty in criticizing the initial U.S. response to the natural disaster. But, if that critique brought more media attention and thus more money (both private and non-private) to the relief efforts, maybe it wasn't such a bad thing?
Furthermore, is it right in your next breath to criticize Indonesia for wanting all foreign troops out by March 31? That request doesn't indicate a lack of appreciation for all we have done and continue to do for their country, but rather a desire to take their country back under their own wing. There is always a feeling of indebtedness when someone helps you to such an extent, and appreciation comes in many forms. Perhaps one indicator of well being or appreciation is willingness to get back on one's own feet.
Indonesia most likely does not want to appear irresponsible and weak (or vulnerable) by continuing to rely on foreign assistance. Many countries around the world know first hand what it means to be indebted to the U.S. and the International Monetary Fund. For example, many South American nations are overly-burdened by the interest on their debt alone and thus, are hard pressed to address flailing educational systems and public health issues.
Let's celebrate Indonesia's sovereign spirit and reach out to assist when they allow it. We must reach out to others in need without expecting repayment or unconditional allegiance. The intergovernmental agreement to a moratorium on debt repayments by countries hard hit by the earthquake and tsunami is heartening. It's a sign of the goodness of the human spirit.
ATVs cause considerable damage
Most county residents live on land that's less than five acres. Imagine what 1,000 acres looks like. Within those 1,000 acres is a crystal clear man-made lake.
Now imagine those 1,000 acres criss-crossed with ATV ruts and gouged hillsides.
That is what one Crow Wing county commissioner is proposing. He wants taxpayers to hand over those 1,000 acres of public land to a small number of ATVers. That might be an acceptable sacrifice if our remaining public land was protected from these high impact machines.
Unfortunately this commissioner proposes to sacrifice this 1,000 acres AND allow riders to continue destroying our ditches, driveways and forest trails. ATVers have been given many chances to show they can ride responsibly. All we've gotten back is excuses.
We keep hearing wild claims about the economic benefits of ATV recreation. Those claims are as false as the claim that lack of trails causes ATVers to trespass and damage property. Designating trails has been shown to increase trespass and damage to adjoining property. It cost one small town $400,000.
What about the costs?
Crow Wing county taxpayers have spent over $6,000 to repair less than 1 percent of the ATV ditch damage. That will put the final repair bill at $600,000 Crow Wing county tax dollars for just the existing ditch damage.
What about driveway repair costs? Forest trail repair? Wetland repair? Displacing traditional users who leave footprints instead of knee-wrenching ruts? Decreased property values?
Benefits must outweigh costs in order to be an increase in economic benefits.
Turning public land into an ATV playground for the false promise of an economic bonanza is like burning the doors to heat the house.
Show us your balance sheet before you sacrifice our land for more false promises.
Don't blame junior high coaches
To blame junior high coaches for the demise of basketball in Brainerd is ridiculous. These programs are run by dedicated people dealing with large numbers of players in limited time and space.
The program is for everybody who wishes to participate. So what is the complaints alternative? Maybe traveling teams, where a limited number of players are selected for this special opportunity.
If you want to upgrade your child's skills, spend the time necessary with your son or daughter. Shovel off the driveway and show them the correct way to play the game. If you're not capable of doing that, then leave it to the people who give everyone a chance to be special, the coaches at school.
Don't forget the U.S. casualties
It's a very fine and noble gesture to have the flags fly at half staff for the victims of the tsunami, but let them also fly at half staff for all of the young Americans killed and being killed every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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