December 15

Photos don't tell story

Letters index(Click on date to jump ahead)

December 15 Photos don't tell story Religion and morality Treatment of retireesDecember 16 Civil War What is physical fitness? Cuts ridiculous BaggersDecember 17 Uniform policy University's Web site Mail room mix-upDecember 18 Retirement Military benefitsDecember 19 Civil War debate Checkpoints Renewable energyDecember 20 Running for PT Holiday thanks PE teachers Late mail

December 21 MWR ads Guarding housing God and government letter

The writer of the letter “Physical fitness” (Dec. 7) has a right to her opinion. Her letter contained some valid points. But I’m compelled to strongly disagree with some of them.

The dance instructor was highly qualified and did not deserve to have her title of “dance expert” be put in quotations. This implied that she was something less than an expert. I can’t possibly see how the writer could ascertain someone’s level of expertise based on pictures in the Nov. 22 Stars and Stripes. It was immediately apparent to me that the dance instructor had the knowledge, motivation, enthusiasm, and powerful ability to get the class involved, even when many participants were initially reluctant to do so. It was also immediately clear that the dance instructor had the capacity to excite and motivate adolescents and teenagers in the same way she motivated adult class members. But if the writer had her way, this woman would not have been chosen to instruct the class because of the way she appeared in the photos. The letter writer talked about the image of role models. I’m not sure if “judging a book by its cover” is an admirable characteristic for a role model to possess.

There’s no question that some of the people in the pictures, myself included, could drop some weight. But I don’t feel that this gave the writer the right to make a blanket judgment and conclude that these teachers are “failures” and are not capable of reaching and motivating their students. In doing so, the writer gave herself credit for having insight that she doesn’t possess.

I have two final salient points. Rick Majerus, the head basketball coach at the University of Utah, is one of the most highly successful and highly respected coaches in all of American sports. His capacity to teach and motivate his athletes is almost unparalleled. But to look at him in a newspaper photo, one would think he has worked his entire life in the back room of a bakery filling jelly donuts. Here again, it is absurd to make the connection between one’s appearance and the ability to reach, teach, and energize students.

It’s easy to take potshots from the sidelines. If the writer is really sincere about wanting to improve the image of physical education teachers within our schools, I invite her to get involved. I think the writer would find in very short order that the ability of teachers to inspire students or to simply get them to experience activities that they are reluctant to try is far more important than how instructors might appear in a newspaper photo.

Art CataldoWiesbaden, Germany

Religion and morality

The writer of the letter “Role of U.S.” (Dec. 5) should have taken more time to read and re-read what he wrote before it was submitted. He managed to state in the same letter that we should “leave the (Middle East’s) culture and religion alone” and also that we should enforce his religion on our schoolchildren to bring back our “morality.”

I guarantee that if we were to force the writer’s children to practice Judaism or Islam or any of the many other religions in the world, he wouldn’t be so quick to “bring back religion” to our public schools. I’m also fed up with people like the writer who equate morality with a lack of religion. I do not practice any religion, but I state emphatically that I have morals!

I know a few people who practice their religions diligently and have no morals at all. What makes the writer think that it’s religion and not society’s many other problems that cause the unstructured and high-speed lives that our children lead today?

The writer also said that we should “take a moderate approach to terrorism at home and abroad.” The writer wants to fight extremism with moderation? Doesn’t he realize that these extremists want him and me and our families dead at any price? Didn’t the writer learn anything from the horrific attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and everything that’s happened since?

Moderation isn’t going to help us in the least. We need to fight long and hard and with everything we have to protect every freedom-loving person in this world. I hope the letter writer isn’t in a position to affect how we fight this war, because his attitudes and beliefs scare me to the extreme.

How many wars have been fought in the name of religion?

Patricia AndersonNewmarket, England

Treatment of retirees

This is regarding the letter “Retiree postal privileges” (Dec. 2). I retired with 29 and a half years of service. I started at the young age of 17. From Vietnam to Kosovo, I’ve received many medals from a grateful nation. As a soldier, I never asked why. I just went because there was a job to be done and my country needed me.

Last night I took all those medals from my grateful nation, and guess what? They weigh more than 16 ounces. And if I weigh the metal removed from my body which I received in the defense of this grateful nation, it also weighs more than 16 ounces. I also folded the American flag which we put over the caskets of our fallen soldiers. It, too, weighs more than 16 ounces. It looks like 16 ounces is a small price to pay for the years of service and all the sacrifices our retirees have given our country.

Someone at the top should have changed this regulation long ago. But that’s not all. One’s money at the community bank is good only until becoming a retiree. Then the money is of no interest to the bank.

So after all their years of service, those becoming retirees should look out. Their grateful nation will soon forget their years of sacrifice. They’ll go from “hero to zero” at midnight, the day before their retirement dates.

John L. DraytonCommand Sgt. Maj. (Ret.)Hohenfels, Germany

December 16

Civil War

This is in response to the letter “Confederate flag” (Dec. 7). It cast the writer of the letter “Government needs God” (Nov. 24) as a racist and unworthy of consideration. But the writer of “Confederate flag” was incorrect and shortsighted.

Slavery was wrong. We’re a better country without it. But the writer said slavery was the main reason for the Civil War. That’s incorrect. Abraham Lincoln had no interest in freeing the slaves. He wanted to ensure federal control over all states and saw the Confederate challenge as a threat to the union. The Confederate states saw federal intrusion into their policies, including slavery, as a violation of states’ rights.

To understand the Confederate flag and its use in the “Civil War,” one must learn a few facts. First, it wasn’t a “civil war.” A civil war is when two or more factions contend for the control of one government. At no time did the Confederates want to overthrow the U.S. government. The Confederate states withdrew from what they correctly viewed as a voluntary union. They formed their own union and adopted their own constitution. The U.S. government was intact. There were just fewer states.

Lincoln’s offensive invasion of the South was without constitutional authority and was based on the North needing tax revenue generated by the South. The North, with its huge population concentrated in large cities, was dependent on the government for its livelihood. It gained the majority in both houses of Congress and began to use the South as a cash cow. The South exported agricultural and other products to Europe and used them to barter for goods. Those goods, when brought back to the States, were subject to huge tariffs which the South had to pay. The North, which didn’t make anything worth exporting, then used this money for pork-barrel projects in its states. So the South had two choices: Either pay high tariffs and receive no benefits from the revenue, or buy artificially high-priced goods from the North. What would the writer have done?

Most Americans support Confederate policies — the strict use of the Constitution to guide us, the Bill of Rights, and constitutional limits on the power and jurisdiction of the federal government. These are all Confederate policies that were represented with the Confederate flag. I have nothing but contempt for slavery, but I do support 98 percent of Confederate policies.

To discard all ideas of the Confederacy because of slavery would be like discarding American ideas because George Washington owned slaves. Our country has a diverse background that’s taught us that everyone has something to contribute. This includes those who supported states’ rights and the Confederacy. Frankly, given the performance and abuses of our federal government, I support the rights of the states to govern themselves more now than at any other time in U.S. history.

I swore to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. I choose not to bow to political correctness or to any president if he fails to uphold the Constitution. I take the Constitution a little more seriously than some.

Sgt. 1st Class Tom LoweBabenhausen, Germany

What is physical fitness?

I read the letter “Physical fitness” (Dec. 7). The writer said she was shocked by the pictures in the Nov. 22 Stars and Stripes showing an overweight “dance expert” and overweight physical educators from the Department of Defense Dependents Schools. I find it absolutely amazing that the writer could look at pictures and tell who is fit and who is not and who is a good role model and who is not. Hasn’t the writer heard that one cannot tell a book by its cover? With eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive behaviors at epidemic levels, it’s the media and people like the writer who continue to spread false ideas about the body and what a physically fit person is or should look like.

A physically fit person is able to meet the challenges of work daily to handle stress and emergencies and still have enough energy to enjoy leisure time pursuits. A person’s fitness level can’t be assessed by looking at pictures or by stepping on scales. Physical fitness is determined by the condition of the heart and circulatory system, the respiratory system (cardiovascular system), muscular system (muscular endurance and muscular strength), degree of flexibility (range of motion around the joints) and body fat.

All the presenters at the DODDS physical education conference showed a great level of physical fitness. They were enthusiastic about the information they presented and appeared to have endless amounts of energy and enthusiasm. The dance instructor was an amazing example of a physically fit person. She was moving her body and instructing dance techniques on her feet from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. After a rather active day of dance, many of the physical education teachers had enough energy to carry out their favorite leisure time activities such as running, biking, weight lifting, swimming or walking. Some even got together for an evening or two of full-court basketball.

I think the letter writer owes Stars and Stripes and its readers an apology for her misleading comments and personal opinions about the fitness levels of our dance instructor and our DODDS physical education teachers. But I do thank her for bringing physical fitness into the public forum. She was right when she said there’s an epidemic of obesity in the United States. With that obesity appears to be an increase in diabetes and other health-related problems. Many of these diseases are attributable to inactivity that begins at an early age. If our country’s leaders would make daily physical education classes available to all of our students from kindergarten to high school, our country could save billions of dollars in future health care costs.

Denny LemmonBitburg High SchoolBitburg, Germany

Cuts ridiculous

The recent decision to cut $18 million from the budget of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe is ridiculous. The cuts are going to come from extracurricular programs that are already lacking when compared to stateside schools. The cuts will more than likely affect athletic programs that are sketchy at best. Schools in Europe play only a six-game football schedule as it is. This is poor to begin with. Most stateside schools play at least 10 regular-season games per year. How much more will be cut before all athletic programs are eliminated?

It’s time to stand up to budget cuts that are directly affecting our families. Everyone who has school-age kids or who is concerned about youths in our communities needs to start a letter-writing campaign to his or her lawmakers. As long as we are quiet on this issue, more cuts will be made. If the end result is to force unaccompanied tours, then the policy or the move toward this policy needs to be stated so families assigned to Europe can make better-informed decisions before choosing accompanied tours overseas.

Jerry LindsayStuttgart, Germany


I think many parents, teachers, youth organizers, etc., are upset by AAFES’ decision to suspend bagging at European facilities. This was brought up at a town hall meeting in Vilseck, Germany, and I’m sure it’s been discussed on other posts. While our local commanders may be sympathetic to our plight, their hands are tied on this issue. The control lies with the AAFES command in Europe and Dallas, Texas.

I suggest people phone or e-mail Col. William H. Taylor, Commander, AAFES-Europe. His e-mail address is It’s posted at AAFES facilities for public knowledge along with that of the major general in Dallas.

Catherine L. ChallVilseck, Germany

December 17

Uniform policy

I’m concerned about the Department of the Army’s uniform policy for deployed civilians. I’ve observed civilians wearing military issue uniforms (battle dress uniforms and for Army physical fitness training) during my Balkans rotation. They don’t have to abide by Army Regulation 670-1, “Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia.” There are a number of civilians who are overweight and/or wear their uniforms improperly.

There are many NATO nations here at Camp Able Sentry, Macedonia. When they see a military uniform, they assume the person wearing it is in the military. When a person is not wearing the uniform correctly, it’s a direct reflection on the U.S. Army.

There seems to be three courses of action that would remedy this situation:

1. Stop the policy of civilians wearing uniforms downrange.2. Design another type of uniform for civilians.3. Make deployed civilians adhere to AR 670-1.

We know the appearance of the military is tantamount to the perception of a professional military.

Maj. Kristen JanowskyCamp Able Sentry, Macedonia

University's Web site

Congratulations to the University of Maryland on getting a 10-year contract extension. I first started attending the university in 1966 in Wiesbaden, Germany, and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in 1971. I subsequently received a second degree in 1979 on Okinawa, Japan.

The University of Maryland has been a tremendous aid to millions of servicemembers all over the world by allowing them to obtain their educations while serving their country. In fact, there are probably two or three times as many military members attending the University of Maryland overseas than there are attending the main campus in Maryland. Even though I have obtained two degrees and my wife one, we have never set foot on the Maryland campus.

Suffice it to say that the University of Maryland makes a very large amount of money on its overseas program. But the official University of Maryland Web page says, “We do not ship to APO/FPO.” Thanks a lot, University of Maryland. With all the money it makes on its overseas military students, it’s an affront to every servicemember that the university doesn’t ship products to us.

I’ve made my feelings known to its Web page to no avail. I believe that all it would take to change this policy would be a simple change in the University of Maryland’s Web page. It wouldn’t cost the university any more to ship to overseas military members than it does to ship to customers in the U.S.

Wayne H. SmithEinsiedlerhof, Germany

Mail room mix-up

As a longtime member of the Hanau, Germany, military community, I’ve always received great service from the 470th Consolidated Mail Room. But two months ago when I returned from a three-week temporary duty trip, I was surprised to find only two pieces of mail in my post office box. I called the CMR two days later and asked if the mail had built up during my TDY and was placed in another area. I thought maybe they had forgotten to put a notice in my box.

I was then told that my box had been closed because I hadn’t picked up any mail for 60 days. I told the mail clerk that the longest my mail had been unchecked could only have been three weeks. I was then informed that the CMR contacted the Hanau Civilian Personnel Office and was told that there was no record of me working in the Hanau area. Based on these circumstances, the CMR decided to close my box, and all my mail was returned to sender.

Believe it or not, some Department of Defense employees in the Hanau community are not serviced by the Hanau CPO. I’m one of them. As a member of the Defense Logistics Agency, my records are maintained in Columbus, Ohio. It would have been nice if the CMR had checked a little further or at least tried to contact me by phone. I was told that I can put a hold on my mail when I expect to be away for long stretches, such as for a TDY. Unfortunately, I was told after the fact. So I had to notify all my creditors that I didn’t try to skip the country without paying my bills. It has also been a financial burden because my new credit cards were also sent back.

Now that I work in a different community, I’ve been able to re-establish my existence with another CMR that took the time to give me all the details about holding mail. It also knows who to contact to verify my employment if necessary. I hope this letter helps other community members who might also travel a lot and aren’t able to frequently check their mail.

Ed BivensHanau, Germany

December 18


It’s hard to believe that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a retired Naval Reserve captain, so flippantly brushed off reducing the retirement age for reservists from 60 to 55 in a recent interview.

I chose to be in the Reserve more than 20 years ago. I’ve never wanted to be active military. I didn’t get second place in boot camp or not make the cutoff on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. The Reserve and Guard aren’t full of GIs who aren’t qualified for active duty. Most are successful in their civilian jobs and could easily do without the weekend paychecks we get for being ready to go to war along with the active components.

I volunteered to go to Beirut, I volunteered for Desert Storm, and I’m more than willing to go to the desert this time. The armed forces can’t do major campaigns without relying on the Reserve. So it’s only fair that we’re given the option of collecting a retirement for our many years of sacrifice, “one weekend at a time.”

When I was a company commander in the National Guard, the only thing my battalion commander wanted to talk to me about was recruiting and retention. I made the mistake of telling him that if we concentrated on training, recruiting and retention would take care of themselves. He didn’t want to hear that, so I went back to kicking the same dead horse with the same results.

I think the Reserve and Guard waste more money per year on recruiting and retention than it would cost to pay reservists a retirement after 20 years. It’s hard to convince a 24-year-old Reserve soldier to re-enlist because he already has six years toward a 20-year retirement — and he can’t collect any of it until he’s 60 years old. Most 24-year-olds don’t think about being 60. Now tell that same soldier that he can collect a retirement at 38, and let’s see what happens to retention. We only get that smaller percentage of money based on our total time in service, so why is it such an issue? Dropping the retirement age from 60 to 55 would cost $200 million in the first year alone. But that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the $90 billion it will cost to wage war against Iraq. Reservists will be there if it happens.

I’ve rarely seen any GIs in the Reserve or National Guard forced out when they were at “the top of their game.” I’m 40, and I’m not at the top of my game when it comes to many of the things that make a soldier. As a very wise older colonel once told me, “War is a young man’s game.”

Like the law enforcement career I chose for my full-time occupation, I never expected to get rich as a cop or a soldier. If there’s one benefit to both careers, it’s that one can expect to get a stable retirement. I believe it’s high time we bring the Reserve and National Guard in line and at least lower the age at which one can collect a retirement. As Secretary Rumsfeld can attest to, retirement from one career can often open the door to another.

Maj. Daniel P. GroslandKosovo

Military benefits

I read with great interest the letter “Soldiers and education” (Dec. 10). I understand the writer’s displeasure at not being able to turn the screws just a little bit tighter on soldiers who are flagged. It’s a typical attitude that’s displayed every day somewhere in the Army. Too bad our young soldiers see it, too.

Smart young troops leave the Army every year because they see not only their benefits going away, but also people like the letter writer trying to control entitlements given to them by law. Telling people they can’t use the GI fund which they’ve contributed to and which receives matching funds from the U.S. government fits right in with, “If the Army had wanted you to have a wife, it would have issued you one.”

We lose enough rights when we raise our right hands. We don’t need to lose any more. Thank God for the lawmakers on Capitol Hill. We have to love those checks and balances.

Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Langston (Ret.)Grafenwöhr, Germany

December 19

Civil War debate

I dispute the declarations of “facts” espoused in the letter “Civil War” (Dec. 16).

Webster’s Dictionary defines a civil war as “a conflict fought between different geographic or political factions of the same nation.” Since no outside nation recognized the legitimacy of the Confederate government, and since the stated aim of President Abraham Lincoln in commencing hostilities was to “preserve the union,” then the conflict literally defines the term “civil war.” Also, a cursory look at manufacturing and farming export statistics from the 1850s shows that the northern states dwarfed the southern states.

The original southern colonies rejected the Articles of Confederation as did the northern states when they formed the union that created our nation under the Constitution. The document that they all signed and ratified, in no word or phrase, either expressly or implied provides for the secession from or dissolution of that union. So the acts of secession that the southern states enacted were both unlawful and unconstitutional. President Lincoln was performing the sworn duties of his office in undertaking the preservation of the union.

To say that the war wasn’t about slavery distorts the most obvious truths that drove the actions of the two sides. Lincoln was elected president on the strength of the Republican platform, which opposed the extension of slavery into new territories. The southern states recognized in Lincoln’s election that slavery’s death knell had been sounded. Rather than seeing it die a slow death through social pressure and the political process, they sought to preserve it by separating from the union. They did this so they could continue slavery in their economic system. They anticipated using their slave-based “cotton” economy to reap the benefits in exports to textile consumers in Europe and the North.

Southern apologists have sought for 140 years to shift the blame for the war away from their “peculiar institution.” But Lincoln understood the issues at the core of the conflict. His actions underlined his desire to limit, reduce and eventually abolish slavery and were second only to his desire to preserve the union. Any serious study of the motives of common soldiers, citizens and elected officials in the North shows that slavery was the core issue of the war. When Lincoln was introduced in 1862 to Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” his exact words were, “So you are the little woman who started this Great War.”

One uncontestable fact is that soldiers in the same Army that the letter writer is a member of fought and died to preserve the union. Those GIs understood their duty and delivered the ultimate sacrifice for their country. President Lincoln dedicated the cemetery at Gettysburg 139 years ago with the words, “It is for us, the living to here be resolved that these dead shall not have died in vain … and that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.” The struggle goes on.

Master Sgt. Mike WilliamsEamstein Air Base, Germany


I want to express my great thanks and appreciation to the Keystone reservists who served our Mark Twain Village checkpoints in Heidelberg, Germany, until Dec. 16. Those checkpoints are now obsolete. Seven two-man checkpoints have been replaced with three government rover vehicles which will drive around on 12-hour shifts.

I don’t understand this. Is it because MTV is not a gated military community? Though the areas outside the checkpoint perimeter are not fenced, the reservists served as a deterrent to possible terrorists who may have considered committing an act against our community. People knew the reservists were watching the area closely. But now people see an open window of opportunity. It’s sad that the governing body for the military in Heidelberg has made such a decision.

Since MTV is not a gated community, we’re now being denied a sense of security enjoyed by other areas such as Campbell, the shopping center and Patrick Henry Village. The right to feel safe and secure has been taken from us. Maybe we should all call housing to see if we can move to one of the areas that are secure. I no longer feel a sense of security here.

I urge the residents of Mark Twain Village who feel the same way to contact their 411th Base Support Battalion commander and let him know how they feel. I do not intend to settle.

Barb WilliamsHeidelberg, Germany

Renewable energy

I read with interest the article which discussed OPEC setting production limits on oil to keep the price higher and thought for the millionth time, “Why do we allow this to continue?” Renewable sources of energy exist. While the technology may not yet be perfected, it soon could be greatly improved with government emphasis, but this doesn’t happen. Why? Because the oil and automotive industries influence our politicians to such a great extent that they fear for their jobs and keep this issue on the back burner. Every initiative to set timetables for alternative energies and to reduce emissions is always slowed to a snail’s pace because of the influence of big business on our elected officials. It’s time that our elected officials start thinking of the next generation, not the next election.

Sgt. 1st Class Ted FrankLandstuhl, Germany

December 20

Running for PT

I was recently told that I’m too stupid to get out of traffic. It came in the form of a new policy letter concerning running for physical training. The policy says that all soldiers in the Schweinfurt, Germany, area of responsibility will run with a buddy for PT. I thought this wasn’t a bad idea since the road many 2nd Brigade soldiers run on has no sidewalks or lighting and is used illegally by morning commuters. I was nodding my head as I continued to read. Then I got to the last paragraph, and my agreement turned into disbelief. The paragraph said that no 2nd Brigade soldier was exempt from the policy unless he was a battalion or brigade command sergeant major or a battalion or brigade commander.

I tried to look at this issue from every angle possible and couldn’t fathom why the exemption was placed in the policy. It can’t be force protection. Ask any terrorist whether he would rather kill an O-6 or E-6, and I bet I know the response. Are they worried about soldiers’ health? Brigade and battalion command teams are demographically at a higher risk for heart attacks and strokes than the average soldier. Safety? Is an unsafe driver less likely to run over a lieutenant colonel than a sergeant? I don’t think so. What is the reason for the exemption?

I know that no commanders would ever produce such an edict and then place themselves above it for personal convenience — not in today’s modern Army. And even if they did, their staffs would surely tell them just how degrading it would be to their soldiers. That couldn’t be it. No officers would ever place themselves above the law.

Using my powers of deduction, I’m left with only one reason. My command thinks that I and all soldiers in the brigade below lieutenant colonel or command sergeant major are stupid and don’t possess the intelligence to move out of traffic. This is the same command that could lead us into war. If I’m not trusted to run on a roadway for PT, will I really be trusted to complete the mission and bring the other dummies home safe?

Staff Sgt. Philip E. CooperSchweinfurt, Germany

Holiday thanks

As the parent of an autistic daughter, I’d like to publicly express my appreciation during this holiday season. Over the years I’ve found that a kind word and the expression of genuine appreciation are some of the best gifts that can be bestowed.

My appreciation goes out first to the community in Heidelberg, Germany, which has repeatedly shown its tolerance and acceptance of my daughter, Emma. I have lived here for six years and have never received anything but kindness and understanding from the people we encounter every day. The yearlong holiday spirit of the person in line at the post exchange who knew we were having a rough day and let us go first to the folks who provide for the community’s handicapped kids — whether through the Special Olympics, extra attention at Christmas or special days at the fests — is appreciated.

But most of all, my appreciation, admiration and love go out to two very outstanding people: Kathy Chanin of Early Intervention Services (Designated Instructional Services) and Mari Brown, a Department of Defense Dependents Schools teacher. These wonderful women put in long hours of care and love to see that our community’s special kids — many already facing insurmountable challenges in life — are being educated, cared for and loved. They are giving our children a lifelong gift — the gift of self, of being. They make certain that these children have the skills they’ll need to go on past this place in life.

So from my daughter and me, happy holidays. Thanks for giving so much.

Melissa BallaMannheim, Germany

PE teachers

I’d like to respond to the letter “Physical fitness” (Dec. 7). To make a statement collectively about the state of fitness of Department of Defense Dependents Schools physical education instructors just from viewing pictures seems very irresponsible. And then the writer further insulted a National Teacher of the Year, author and dance expert by saying she was overweight. “Judging a book by its cover” is a cliché that comes to mind. Does one have to be thin to be in physical shape? Does a role model have to be thin to be an instruct-or? Role models are those PE teachers who happen to be great motivators and are doing great jobs with their European programs regardless of their sizes, shapes or races. They come in all sizes and shapes and provide outstanding programs for DODDS students.

If the writer really has an interest in the fitness of our young students, she will write to her congressman and prompt him to support physical education programs in DODDS and in the United States. DODDS students are currently required to take only one year of PE in high school, yet we have an epidemic of obese children.

The writer’s suggestion that the European administration hold government employees to the highest standards of fitness was also a nice thought. I’d be for all employers and employees to be fit. But how would that be accomplished? How would the laws of discrimination play into that idea?

We’d all like a perfect world in which everyone is fit and there is no disease, no poverty and no wars. But that won’t happen. What will happen is that the instructors who the writer bashed a bit will present quality programs and introduce technology to students to give them the knowledge to set up a healthy lifestyle. We will continue to battle for more time to develop fitness and student health.

I hope the writer continues to preach and live the attributes of physical fitness. It appeared from her letter that the writer is concerned about this issue. I hope the writer is actively involved in her community school programs, donating her dance expertise and assisting her local school physical education programs. I suggest that in the future the writer never “judge a book by its cover,” but instead by the content of what’s inside.

I’d also like to thank Stars and Stripes for its coverage of our physical education conference. It brought to readers the DODDS PE programs and how they’re keeping up with technology. The new Tri-Fit machines and the use of heart rate monitors in all schools shows how DODDS teachers are able to assist PE students in developing quality, sound programs for the future.

Rik CarrBitburg, Germany

Late mail

In these times of heavy-duty, serious news stories, I thought Stars and Stripes readers might enjoy a story that can only be considered humorous.

On Dec. 10, I checked my personal mailbox at the brand new consolidated mail room at Wiesbaden Army Airfield in Germany. To my delight, I had received a “Critics’ Choice” video catalog. When I looked at the movie titles on the yellowing pages, I thought it was a special edition for “golden oldies.” It was addressed to me, but the address was USMCA and the New York, NY, APO is 09457. The date on the catalog was “SUMMER 1991.”

Yes indeed, that was my address in 1991 here in Wiesbaden. I wonder where this catalog has been for 11 years? Thanks to our dedicated postal folks, somewhere along the line it finally made it to my mailbox. Thank heavens it wasn’t an income tax refund check or any other critical piece of mail.

Judy FlackeWiesbaden, Germany

December 21

MWR ads

Stars and Stripes runs a half-page ad multiple times each week telling us essentially nothing other than the Morale, Welfare and Recreation activity is making things happen and that we’re its focus. I submit that the ads are a waste of our MWR funds that could be used to fund something meaningful. MWR may not be wasting a lot of money, but it shouldn’t be wasting any money.

When ads run, they should at least provide information that is of value and use to readers. They should be ads which readers might actually read. What is the cost and frequency of this ad? It’s either being funded by tax dollars or MWR. Either way, we’re paying the bill. Readers who haven’t taken a second to read this ad should fear not, for they’ll have the chance. It will likely run again a couple of times in the next week at their expense and take money out of the MWR budget.

I’m not letting AAFES off the hook in this area either. Its use of our funds to run occasional full-page ads which say nothing more than AAFES serves us is equally questionable. Regular advertising is understandable. I challenge AAFES to stop running these “feel good” ads and pass the savings along to its customers.

Neil SouthwoodStuttgart, Germany

Guarding housing

This is in regard to the letter “Housing security lax” (Dec. 9). I’m sorry the writer feels that his housing is not being protected properly. I’m especially sorry that the Reserve/National Guard members with M-16s protecting his housing are not highly-trained guards with submachine guns. Did the writer ever consider that those highly-trained guards on post might just be part of the same group of Reserve/National Guard members who are at his housing? That’s the way it is in Würzburg, Germany.

I’m sure many of those Reserve/National Guard members took offense, as did I, to the claim that we are not trained. Has the writer ever thought that while we’re over here protecting his housing and “our” military installations that there’s no one protecting our families and homes? I’d rather be home with my family than protecting the writer’s house. If the writer feels that his guards aren’t trained enough due to their military status, then maybe he would like to stand out there and protect his own housing area.

I’m proud to serve my country, whether while I was on active duty or now as part of the Pennsylvania National Guard. This may not be the best deployment, but it is certainly not the worst by far. I thank the soldiers who are in worse spots for defending our freedom every day. Has the writer ever thanked the reservists for guarding his house and family? Or does he just walk by them thinking that they’re not good enough for his housing area? I’m lucky that I’m in Würzburg where we’re appreciated and thanked.

Sgt. Teresa MorrisKitzingen, Germany

God and government letter

This is in response to the letter “Government needs God” (Nov. 25). The writer said our judicial system has “taken God out of America.” This isn’t so. Our judicial system was never based on one set “God.” Hence, we have the freedom to practice whatever religion we see fit. The very freedom of religion that the writer spoke about is what makes this so.

The writer also said that as “Christians,” we stand up for people’s freedom of speech, religion, etc. This is also not so. Muslims, Catholics, Baptists, Episcopalians, Mormons, atheists, Wiccans and the members of any and every other religion one can think of do stand up and fight for the rights which the Constitution grants us all as Americans.

The writer also said that his children are not allowed to recite the Lord’s Prayer in school. Neither are children of any other religious denomination allowed to recite their prayers openly in school.

Who cares if other countries are laughing at us “because of what we stand and fight for”? We can’t enforce one set of beliefs in America. Rather, we are not allowed to enforce one set of beliefs in America. Citizenship in our country is not defined by our religious beliefs. That’s what makes us America.

Marissa AlmstromRamstein Air Base, Germany

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