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Regarding the July 7 letter decrying the use of a picture of someone with smokeless tobacco on the cover of the 2010 edition of Heroes (“Smokeless tobacco is not a heroic image”): Though I agree that this is a disgusting habit that is indulged in by far too many soldiers, I have to take exception to this letter.

That “individual” is Staff Sgt. Jared Monti, a posthumous Medal of Honor recipient who gave his life to save a fellow warrior, and, frankly, I don’t care if he was shown wearing a clown nose and rainbow wig.

The point of the supplement was to honor heroes, not serve as a surgeon general’s warning. If anything, this was probably one of the only pictures the press was able to acquire of him — preferable to having the press harass his distraught family to find a “better” picture.

Furthermore, the reason so many soldiers use smokeless tobacco downrange is to cope with the constant stress and exhaustion they face. Focusing on this aspect of his story, when there is so much to admire and respect about Jared Monti, is completely missing the point.

Save the anti-tobacco rhetoric for public service announcements.

Maj. Jennifer Neuhauser

Colorado Springs, Colo.

Not an anti-tobacco story

This is in response to the July 7 letter “Smokeless tobacco is not a heroic image.” If the only thing the letter writer sees on the cover is the dip of tobacco in Staff Sgt. Jared Monti’s lower lip, then maybe she should look again. This is not an anti-tobacco story.

I’m sorry the letter writer finds it offensive that these heroes did not take the time to spit out that plug of tobacco before being photographed. I guess next time someone snaps a picture of a soldier with a dip of tobacco, he should be asked to spit it out, because he may later end up in a Stars and Stripes article that describes how he fought and died for his acts of heroism and bravery — but that wad of chew may overshadow that.

Eric Puccio

Forward Operating Base Prosperity, Iraq

More freedom, fewer agendas

OK, I have had it. This is in reference to the July 7 letter “Smokeless tobacco is not a heroic image.”

All should remember the freedoms we all protect as members of the military; the letter writer used hers freely by writing. I really cannot sit and read some of the things others insist on pushing down others’ throats.

Personal views are not what we the military are about; it is about defending freedom.

I really am not happy that Stars and Stripes even printed this letter. Nowhere in Army Regulation 670-1 does it say that what the letter writer did not like presents an unprofessional appearance. That is the writer’s personal perception and shouldn’t be shared.

This is one of the problems in our society: everyone getting on their soapbox when they do not like something and pushing their agenda to change the way society thinks. It is an epidemic that is destroying our freedoms. When the Constitution and the Bill of Rights changes to depict these actions, then I will listen. Until then, people shouldn’t attempt to change the country to their way of thought. That is called dictatorship, communism, the Taliban, I could go on.

We as a nation are free to do the things that allow us to pursue life, liberty and happiness — not make us live by others’ standards.

Sgt. 1st Class Keith Piotrowski

Camp Liberty, Iraq

Forefathers’ ideas still best

I wholeheartedly agree with “Pro-repealers’ motives impure” (letter, July 5). Many have used the example of blacks and women joining the military to be the same as homosexuals joining. To me, that is an insult to blacks and women. They are being compared to an immoral idea that is being forced on American servicemembers by a liberal media with a liberal agenda.

On top of that, any and all who oppose their beliefs are automatically called hate-mongers and homophobic. This all undermines the principles on which our great country was founded.

We should return to the roots that made this country what it is and what it should be. We should follow the examples our forefathers gave us. We should all look back at what started this country and realize that the ideas that founded America are the ones that are going to lead us into a brighter tomorrow.

Rather than lowering our moral standards, we should be raising them — so that our children will be proud of the America we built today.

Spc. Anthony Lawton

Camp Arifjan, Kuwait

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