September 15

Bring the boys back home

Letters index(Click on date to jump ahead)

September 15 Bring the boys back home Focus on care, not separation Respect for symbol is flagging Burning a hole in my walletSeptember 17 Army unfairly being belittled 'Frightening' lack of qualities What's right is not to write Disgraceful depiction of flagSeptember 18 Lots of loss, but no stop AFN's got it covered Proud to have served overseas

September 19 Unaccompanied 'baggage' Does Washington even care? Thanks to the larger family

September 20 All can celebrate our heritage Time to rise to the occasion Try quitting instead of whining

September 21 Iraq: Listen to the voices Is this what we fought for? Punishment not child's play

I am a retired chief warrant officer from the U.S. Army. I had one tour in Germany for 38 months and have had other short deployments as an Army Reserve officer. On one the longest, I was away from home for nine months.

With the cuts in the Army in the last 10 years, it is now necessary for servicemembers to have more short tours to support such operations as the Balkans and War on Terrorism. I think Congress should really think again before reducing or making any changes about overseas assignments over one year being unaccompanied. Too many GIs have marriage trouble as it is. Remember the deaths at Fort Bragg of GIs and spouses.

Alan WestwaterNineveh, Ind.

Focus on care, not separation

Lately in Stars and Stripes there have been several articles about separating Army families beyond the requirements of South Korea, Japan, Central America, Philippines, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and a dozen more countries. I would like to make one observation and one recommendation.

First, the greatest retention challenge in midterm and career re-enlistment is repetitive unaccompanied tours, with some military occupational specialties hit harder than others.

The worst case I have seen was an E-5 with six years in service who had served one unaccompanied 12-month tour in South Korea, an accompanied tour in Germany, two six-month rotations in Bosnia and one six-month rotation in Kosovo. Who would intentionally want to spend the next 14 years at that pace without their family?

Instead of making Germany an unaccompanied tour, I would recommend reducing U.S. troops in Europe. Send the soldiers and the millions of dollars we spend in Europe back to the States, where base closings threaten many local communities. The European community has professional armies that can adequately police its own back yard in Bosnia and Kosovo. It has been more than half a century since the end of World War II and more than a decade since the end of the Cold War; it is time for the European community to assume responsibility for its continent with its armies and air forces.

The bottom line is not how we can most efficiently separate our soldiers and their family members, but rather how we can take care of our soldiers, their family members and our nation’s best interests.

Sgt. Maj. Sam HamontreeStuttgart, Germany

Respect for symbol is flagging

I am a civilian and former soldier working for the Department of Defense. Since I have been in Würzburg, I find it hard to watch the American flag be lowered at the end of the day and see people — especially dependents and a few military personnel — still walking or driving around as though nothing significant is happening, even though they see other servicemembers and civilians standing in respect when the retreat is sounded.

However, I was astounded that the German contract workers outside on the installation streets stopped and paid their respect to the flag — but our own citizens could not.

If we cannot take time to show respect for our country and the flag, then what type of message does this send to other foreign countries? What does that tell foreigners about us, and how we would treat them?

Harold N. JonesWürzburg, Germany

Burning a hole in my wallet

On a box of cigarettes sold through the PX and commissary systems, there is a label that states “U.S. Tax Exempt for Use Outside U.S.” So why is the price of a carton of premium cigarettes around $32?

One can purchase a carton of premium cigarettes on the East Coast (Carolinas, Kentucky, Virginia) for approximately $10. Further, the price on the economy is less than the Army and Air Force Exchange Service — currently 30 euros for a carton.

This makes the ration card process for cigarettes appear to be unnecessary and obsolete as well. I have asked and haven’t gotten a sound, or reasonable, answer. I was told the price is set by AAFES, not the Defense Commissary Agency.

Donna SargeantGarmisch, Germany

September 17

Army unfairly being belittled

I have been wondering for some time why this administration is sidelining and belittling the U.S. Army. I am becoming increasingly suspicious that someone in the administration once got perceived or deserved slights from the Army — and now is “getting even.”

It began with the Challenger big gun — deleted from the budget; probably deservedly so. But no other service had its cost-prohibitive weapons system deleted; we still have the Osprey, we still have bombers and Joint Strike Fighters and aircraft carriers.

Then the administration leaked the name of Gen. Eric Shinseki’s replacement as Army chief of staff ahead of schedule; he’s being replaced supposedly for not “transforming the Army” fast enough (of course, the administration didn’t fully fund that, either). Then they pick a Marine Corps general to lead the Army (and other non-Marine) forces in Europe.

And now they want to eliminate overseas accompanied tours. Coincidentally, they propose six-month overseas rotations for Army units. How could Army leadership accept that? In six months an Army unit of any size would spend half that time packing, unpacking and repacking equipment — expeditiously transported back and forth by the Air Force and Navy, of course. What kind of readiness and esprit de corps will that engender? Who would volunteer for that?

No similar tour eliminations are suggested for the sister services; they’d surely get to keep their tours in Europe and the Pacific. But don’t they already have six-month unaccompanied rotations? Right — on their ships and in their planes. And I think they get flight and sea pay for that, too.

Why are not the Army generals saying, “You are not going to make a puny American Army on my watch” and speaking out to Congress, soldiers and the American people?

In 38 years of service with the Army, I have gladly worked with joint and sister service personnel and I respect their professionalism, patriotism, skills and courage. But the Army shouldn’t be a scapegoat for elected or appointed politicians’ and bureaucrats’ personal agendas.

Robert D. DolemanKaiserslautern, Germany

'Frightening' lack of qualities

Competence, clarity, decisiveness and consistent diplomacy should be hallmarks of an American government when military members and their families are asked to prepare for war. The glaring absence of these qualities in this administration is embarrassing and frightening. I have not spoken to anyone who believes that either the commander in chief or his administration has done anything to inspire confidence in officers, soldiers or citizens.

When the president called our allies for support for an invasion of Iraq and was rebuffed, it reflected a serial mismanagement of foreign affairs by him and his subordinates. Public swaggering about going it alone without allies is merely a cover for bumbling. British Prime Minister Tony Blair had to fly to America to lend credibility because our leaders are incapable of articulating a persuasive case about why Saddam Hussein must go, even though one clearly exists.

Within a week, statements from Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell were repeatedly contradictory about a war with Iraq. National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice is a sovietologist ill-equipped to advise on Middle East politics and terrorism. This administration was briefed twice in 2001 on threats from al-Qaida, but said afterward that the priority was missile defense, not terrorism. U.S. intelligence confirmed that a terrorist threat was imminent, but when 9/11 happened, our leaders acted totally surprised.

This administration’s missteps would be comic if the possible loss of soldiers’ lives in an attack on Iraq were not so breathtaking. I pray that I will not see on CNN replays of “Black Hawk Down” on Baghdad streets, but the poor planning, ignored intelligence and incompetence shown thus far will certainly guarantee it.

Questions from allies about evidence, isolating and finding Saddam, inflaming the Middle East, nation-building in post-war Iraq, an exit plan, security of oil supplies and additional threats to Israel have yet to be answered by the Bush administration.

Saddam is an evil man whose weapons and ability to make them must be destroyed, but we must demand more from our leaders before we send troops into a battle that could unleash horror and be bloody. The effort and time required for this preparation take precedence over Texas ranch vacations and political fund raising. This pathetic level of performance to prevent terrorism and remove Saddam is a poor tribute to those who lost their lives on that horrible day last September.

May God bless our soldiers and protect them from enemies, both foreign and domestic.

M.D. WooldridgeWürzburg, Germany

What's right is not to write

I am responding to Sgt. Brandon Hawkins’ Sept. 7 letter “Adult conduct also suspect.”

It seems there are problems in the Schweinfurt Housing area (legitimate, I’m sure, as I have lived in many housing areas).

As a member of the noncommissioned corps, Sgt. Hawkins should be ashamed of the example he is setting for his soldiers — that being writing to the Stars and Stripes is the way to solve chain-of-command issues. What did he hope to accomplish by writing this letter?

I see that he is deployed to Kosovo, but certainly he is aware of the various family support channels available through the rear detachment. Each legitimate issue he talks of can be solved by responsible members in his chain of command, or the area support network — not to be confused with Stars and Stripes.

Set the example, sergeant.

Frank JamezCamp Humphreys, South Korea

Disgraceful depiction of flag

When I turned to the center of the Sept. 11 Stars and Stripes Accent magazine, my eyes burned and my stomach knotted up. What startled and shook me was the “In memoriam” depiction of the U.S. flag. This full-page depiction should put someone off the staff and behind bars.

For those readers who either did not get a copy of or missed this offensive, degrading and illegal portrayal of our flag (See the U.S. Code; Acts of Congress, Title 4, Chapter 1, Sec. 1.), allow me to describe what Stripes chose to display as a memoriam to all that occurred on 9/11. This was a full-page, in-color, in-your-face depiction. In the upper left-hand corner was a black field containing 50 white stars. Directly below were seven vertical red-and-white stripes. Next was a white stripe, a black stripe, a white stripe, another black stripe, a white stripe and a final red stripe.

I hope this description makes your stomach knot up, too. Anyone who has ever looked at the flag of the United States of America knows that there are 13 horizontal stripes, alternate red and white; and 50 white stars on a blue field. More information on our flag can be found by asking any member of our armed forces, our firefighters or our police officers.

Those black-and-white stripes would look good on the clothes of all those responsible for the disgraceful depiction of our flag — the flag of the United States of America, Old Glory, the old Red, White and Blue.

Richard L. HaverkateSeckenheim, Germany

September 18

Lots of loss, but no stop

After months of everyone waiting, the Army has finally informed those of us affected by stop loss that we have to spend an extra year in the Army.

This is yet another ridiculous policy that solves nothing. Many of us had jobs lined up on the outside world but had to notify our future employers that they had to look for someone else. Others had to tell families the heartbreaking news they would not be coming home after all.

Once a soldier’s contract is up, that should be it. I am tired of having to put my life on hold for the Army. I thought the Army was keeping soldiers in droves. It ran out of money for re-enlistment bonuses. It has met 100 percent of recruiting goals for this year. It has in excess of 19,000 new recruits lined up for next year.

But apparently it is not filling the jobs it is short in because here I am, now waiting for this extra year to pass by as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, I watch soldiers and NCOs in my unit move on to garrison posts such as forts Monroe and Belvoir in Virginia. A friend of mine asked about his options for his second re-enlistment. His choices? Fort Polk, La.; Fort Hood, Texas; and Fort Drum, N.Y. This is the best the Army can do? This is the thanks he gets for being a seasoned noncommissioned officer while the Army gives a know-nothing recruit $6,000 or more for a bonus just to sign on the dotted line?

I don’t think it’s just me when I say there is something wrong with that. As for me, after watching nearly eight years of mismanagement, the ridiculous operations tempo and general lack of overall care for the Army’s people, no thank you. I will take my chances in the real world. If I am unhappy with what I do, at least I can quit.

Sgt. Michael P. TaylorKitzingen, Germany

AFN's got it covered

I just wanted to say thank you to the American Forces Network staff here on Okinawa for the super job they did keeping us updated on Typhoon Sinlaku. The timely dissemination of information, typhoon updates and upbeat attitudes went a long way during this storm, and I — for one — am grateful. Keep up the good work!

Jessica RobertsCamp Foster, Okinawa

Proud to have served overseas

As I conclude my 95 days of Operation Enduring Freedom with the 379 ESVS, I cannot believe how in such a short time troops from all over the world — active-duty and National Guard — could come together to accomplish what we have at al-Udeid Air Base. When nine of us guardsmen from Rhode Island arrived at Camp Andy, it was small. Now it has a full-size indoor gym/fitness center, basketball court, two swimming pools and an indoor movie theater.

Thanks to CE/Red Horse, we have wooden floors, doors and partitions in our tents. The showers were improved from tents to regular Cadillac additions with cold water. Communications chipped in with American Forces Network cable TV and the Internet/phone service. Security forces worked long hours ensuring our safety while we slept and worked.

Most of us have made good friends we might not ever see again, but we will keep in contact through e-mail. All of these accomplishments were achieved in part because of hard work, dedication, patriotism and the remembrance of our brave and innocent 9/11 victims. This is who we are fighting this war on terrorism for.

I am proud to have served with all of the troops based at various places throughout the world to make America safe.

Tech Sgt. Joseph L. DeCurtisal-Udeid Air Base, Qatar

September 19

Unaccompanied 'baggage'

Unaccompanied tours? The title of the Sept. 7 story in Stripes should have been “Unaccompanied baggage.” That is what the Army is making family members feel like.

I would appreciate knowing who came up with this bright idea of making all overseas tours unaccompanied. Do they not have family? Do they not care if they inflict even more undue hardship on the soldiers and families? As if there are not enough other things going on in the world and even in our local communities for spouses to worry about, now we have to come to the realization that the Army is pretty much telling us: “You can marry military personnel, but do not plan on really building a life with him or her. You will not see them for one year out of the next three to four, and this will continue for the duration of their tour, so long as he or she remains in the Army.”

Military leaders will do their best to make sure there is cohesion within the units, but they seem not to care if there is cohesion within the families. Family stability? They say they are concerned about this, too. What a joke! Do the proponents of this plan not realize that having family close by can bring great peace of mind and stability to the soldier, his family and the community, as well as to his platoon, battalion and the armed forces in general?

Are there not enough problems in retaining good, committed soldiers and NCOs within the military? My husband’s commitment to the Army is strong, and I know he feels proud to serve in the Army, but I wonder what this will do to future generations of servicemembers.

For many soldiers and families, part of the reason they took the tour overseas was to see various countries, appreciate different cultures and know that our servicemembers are in the military to protect other nations, not just our own. I think it would be a great opportunity lost if families were robbed of seeing the cultural diversity. I am so grateful that we have had a chance to share these experiences with our sons the past three years. I am grateful they are old enough to be able to look back on their time here with a better understanding of the world around them. Unfortunately, their experiences may be shared by few others in the future.

If this is purely a financial decision on the government’s part, shame on them. If they want to save money by not spending it on the families’ living expenses, travel, housing and services, maybe they should look at the fat salaries and retirement packages of our political figures. They should look at the overspending on the presidential inaugural balls, political campaigning and excessive travel — and even the White House Christmas trees (there are more than 50 decorated trees in the White House).

Every time we vote a new president into office, taxpayers pay to redecorate the White House. This is fraud, waste and abuse if I ever heard it. We military families cannot even paint our government housing unless we have specific permission to paint a few rooms, and then we have to pay for it to be returned to the original state before we leave.

Maybe our politicians should work on a commission-only basis: They get a check only when they actually accomplish something. That would probably cut government spending by a third. We all need to speak out. I hope Stars and Stripes gets 10,000 letters on this subject. Someone needs to hear the voices of the people. Instead of the politicians speaking for us, they need to speak on our behalf.

Kate RugerWiesbaden, Germany

Does Washington even care?

Would it be better not to have families overseas? Yes and no. I am currently serving as the rear detachment first sergeant for my unit deployed to Kosovo. True, I would be back in the line doing my job as an infantry soldier, but I cannot say that I would enjoy it under those rules.

Families are extremely important, not only to the soldiers stationed here, but also to the life of the community that surrounds our base.

I do not agree with those who say they would get out if this tour changed. If that is truly how they feel, then they are serving for the wrong reasons. Yes, family is important; our mission to protect our country will always have a higher priority.

My wife is a German national and I know that she would not want to have to stay in the States while I came here for a tour. But she could come over; the Army just wouldn’t pay for anything.

The bottom line under all this talk is the costs that would be saved. These costs will come at the expense of our morale at a time when we need it the most. The only thing that shocks me is the fact that we still have soldiers who believe that Washington cares how we feel.

Sgt. 1st Class Matthew R. CloydSchweinfurt, Germany

Thanks to the larger family

An open letter to friends, family and brother/sisters in arms:

I know that — in light of all that has happened over the last year — many people have forgotten or taken for granted what it means to put on that uniform every day. I want to let you all know that whether you are active, Reserve or retired, I appreciate all that you have done and will do for this country. I want you all to be proud every day that you put that uniform on or proud to be the one in the crowd who has that military ID, saying that you have taken it upon yourself and made that decision to protect this country.

I may not have been in as long as all of you or done as many cool things, but I can remember the first time I put that uniform on for real — in 1992, at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. I can remember thinking that my grandfather, God rest his soul, and my family would be proud of what I had become — an adult, a soldier, a man. I remember taking that oath as a tear came to my eye, meaning every word of it.

I look back over the past year and many of us have had trials and tribulations, maybe lost loved ones or even been unsure of the future, but one thing has remained the same — the U.S.A. It is here when we go to sleep, when we wake and when we think that there is no end to the atrocities of the world.

I am writing this to let each and every one of you know that there are people out there thinking about you all — all of our brothers and sisters in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. I will never forget the fine soldiers with whom I had the honor and the privilege to serve, to dig those ditches, to build those bridges and, yes, to learn those languages. If I could be there right now with each and every one of you, I would — to remind you of the great job you are doing in everything you do.

A very dear friend of mine, Lt. Charles Hancock said: “Never give up, We all need someone to sound off to.” I want you to never give up, never lose sight of what it is that made you put on that uniform, and always remember that you are doing a great service to yourselves and your country; and that you are in all our hearts and minds. Keep your heads up and stay in the fight, no matter what or where it is. I love all of you and hold you all in the greatest respect.

Spc. Jason R. SheehanWallingford, Conn.

September 20

All can celebrate our heritage

Every year around this time I’m approached by people with the same question. “Hey, Chief,” they say, “why do we have to have Hispanic Heritage Month? Aren’t we all Americans?”

I never argue that a bit, but there’s more to it. I’m sure you know we celebrate African-American/Black History Month in February, Women’s History Month in March, Asian-Pacific Month in May, Hispanic Heritage Month in September and Native American Month in November. The purpose of those observances is to educate those of us who don’t know a lot about those cultures, and to acknowledge the contributions those groups of people have made to our own American heritage.

When you ask yourself what it is that makes America great, you’ll find the answer is “diversity.” If you’ll look around you (go ahead, no one is watching) you’ll notice that we’re made up of people from all kinds of cultures, from different parts of the country or the world, we all have different needs and desires, we’re all different. What makes us great is that we’ve been able to synergize all those differences to form one very diverse, but unified, family that allows us to be ourselves and expects us to accept each other.

We used to talk about the American “melting pot.” An honorable idea, but I’m not sure it’s attainable. Why? Because there is very little, if any, chance that we’ll all “melt,” that we’ll all assimilate, that we’ll all be the same. And I’m not so sure we all want to be the same.

I think it was Gen. George S. Patton who said: “If two of us are thinking the same thing, we don’t need one of us.” There’s a marked difference between thinking the same thing and thinking with the same purpose in mind.

The concept of the American “salad bowl” comes closer to describing the culture in which we live. The illustration of the salad bowl describes a dish that, as a whole, is its own entity, delicious and healthy. What gives that dish its flavor and wholesomeness is all of the different ingredients that make it one. Each ingredient adds its own contribution to the whole. Any part of it that’s missing will affect the end result.

Author Stephen Covey has said that “unity is not sameness, it’s complimentariness.” If we are to be united, we have to be willing to accept, appreciate and celebrate each other’s differences.

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, join the fun! Get involved! Make time to enjoy the various events scheduled throughout this month! You don’t have to be of, or know a lot about, the culture. The people who have labored hard to organize the events will gladly teach you and will welcome your support. You’ll learn a lot and you’ll find a kind of gratification you can’t find elsewhere. The education you gain and the relationships you develop will make you better and they’ll make America better. Together, we can go forward! ¡Adelante!

Chief Master Sgt. Bob VásquezRamstein Air Base, Germany

Time to rise to the occasion

David Read Johnson’s Sept. 6 column (“A proper memorial is two new towers”) is by far the best and only decent 9/11 memorial idea I’ve heard yet. I don’t care how long it takes or what it costs, I would settle for nothing less than to eat at the 107th floor Windows on the World restaurant of one fully rebuilt twin tower and visit a 111th floor memorial on top of the other fully rebuilt twin tower.

Petty Officer 2nd Class David MercilAtusgi Naval Air Facility, Japan

Try quitting instead of whining

As I read Donna Sargeant’s Sept. 15 letter (“Burning a hole in my wallet”), I could not resist the chance to respond to her complaint. As a U.S. Navy serviceman, I know that a lot of servicemembers and their dependents smoke. I am a nonsmoker and I always will be. Why is Ms. Sergeant complaining about the price of a carton of cigarettes? Has she tried to quit so she can save some money and her health?

What a lot of smokers don’t realize is that we nonsmokers help pay for all of their health care-related costs — and then Americans complain that we pay too much in health care costs. This is one reason why we pay more.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric HoffmanIwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, Japan

September 21

Iraq: Listen to the voices

Many voices have been shouting for the United States to unilaterally attack Iraq. They are accusing Iraq of amassing biological and chemical weapons and of trying to acquire nuclear arms. They are also scaring the American people into believing that America is in grave danger of being attacked by Saddam Hussein. While I have no love for Saddam, I see no need for the loss of American lives by attacking Iraq.

The United States is monitoring Iraq with fighter jets in the north and south. We have Navy ships off the coasts and satellites that monitor every form of communications emitting from Iraq. The United States is not in danger from an attack by Iraq. We have contained the country. Unilaterally attacking Iraq at this time is the one action that could put America, its people and the people of the world in the most danger.

One doesn’t have to be a general to realize that fighting a war unilaterally on multiple fronts is unwise. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s hear it from the generals:

“You don’t want to be at war on two fronts, if you can avoid it. I think that we would be lacking if we went alone at this time. It’s great to have other people with you even if their military contribution is small. It’s a commitment on their part that helps to strengthen the overall coalition.” — Norman Schwarzkopf, ex-Desert Storm commander, “Meet the Press,” Aug. 18.

“Attacking Iraq now will cause a lot of problems. It’s the wrong time.” — Anthony Zinni, retired Marine Corps general, Florida Economic Club, Aug. 23.

“We should not seek war. It should be the last resort.” — Wesley Clark, ex-NATO commander, Times of London, Aug. 29.

“Any campaign against Iraq is certain to divert us from our war on terrorism.” — retired Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 15.

Finally, my biggest worry is from another member of the so-called “axis of evil,” North Korea. If the United States was to fight unilaterally in Afghanistan and Iraq, we’d be unable to stop a North Korean invasion of the South, short of using nuclear arms ourselves.

Let’s ask Congress to not waste American lives in Iraq. Send our military against the Taliban, al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden. They are our enemies.

James CarrethersHeidelberg, Germany

Is this what we fought for?

During World War II, millions of men, including myself, fought to remove tyranny from the world. As history will show, our mission was successful.

The young, patriotic men who served were idealistic and perhaps naive. Their hearts beat wildly in anticipation of meeting and defeating the enemies of freedom. These same men believed that once their mission was complete that freedom and democracy would reign forever throughout the world. History has exposed their naiveté, as other despots have risen.

Closer to home, our veterans returned to their families as victors. It was a return full of hope for their futures. They were content to live out their lives as free people in our great democracy. But for our nation’s citizens, unacceptable changes have taken place in the way of life that everyone expected. Recent events have changed our freedom of choice, freedom of association, and freedoms of thought and speech.

A candidate who didn’t receive the majority of the popular vote in the 2000 presidential election was subsequently appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court, thereby becoming our illegitimate president. Voters’ choice was taken away by a partisan court in conjunction with voter fraud and ballot counting. And this was only the beginning.

The terrible events of Sept. 11, 2001, opened the door to further abuses and violations of our rights as Americans. The culprits were the administration — as represented by President Bush and his rights-robbing attorney general, John Ashcroft.

Thousands of citizens, especially those of Middle Eastern descent, were detained without the right of communication or legal counsel. Authorized monitoring of conversations between detainees and their attorneys, when such counsel was permitted, quickly followed.

Legislation authorizing secret searches of ordinary Americans’ homes was sought by the attorney general. This outrageous request was followed by seeking the right to search the mail and the Internet for information deemed dangerous. What happened to the rights of privacy and free speech? When our citizens raised an outcry against these abuses, President Bush labeled us “unpatriotic” or “traitors.”

The most recent insult and attack on our way of life is the “Operation TIPS” program proposed by Bush and Ashcroft. They want to turn this country into a land of informants. Flashback to Nazi Germany, a country in which family members informed on each other, neighbors told officials of what they believed to be suspicious activities, and co-workers were not hesitant to turn in each other to the authorities.

Bush, born in 1946, and Ashcroft, born in 1942, didn’t live through the Nazi era, so they’re unable to realize the terror and death wrought by the Nazis’ “TIPS” program. Evidently, they paid little attention to their history lessons in school. If they had, they would’ve known that they are now off-course with their latest freedom-suppressing idea.

Every U.S. citizen should rebel when the job description of mailmen, home repair people, meter readers, delivery people and others coming into our homes includes the requirement to spy on the citizens whom they serve.

With all these assaults on our freedoms, the young, bright-eyed, patriotic men who fought to retain these freedoms are now sad-eyed old men. These men, like me, are still patriotic. They still want to hold out hope for this country, but it’s a hope that seems to diminish daily. We’ve lost our naiveté and, perhaps, some of our idealism.

We citizens must participate to stop the assault on the freedoms and rights that are part of the heritage of every American. We must raise our voices in unison to express our outrage at the direction the Bush administration is taking us. We are now — and forever will be — freedom-loving Americans. The Constitution guarantees that. By fighting back, we will prove to President Bush that we are not a country of “traitors,” but rather a nation of red-blooded patriots.

Donald ClarkPark Forest, Ill.

Punishment not child's play

These people who we all too often read about in the papers and see on television who abduct, rape and/or kill children are far worse than the animals that we put down for attacking people. But they should be treated the same. These people commit these horrible acts with the intelligence and forethought that animals don’t possess.

When do we say that enough is enough? If a person takes a life, that person’s life is forfeited in return. I know some people don’t agree with that point of view. But until the punishment fits the crime, criminals will keep committing these crimes. Knowing that there will be no bargaining for an admittance of guilt and that death alone will be the price that they pay for their actions will not stop all of these people, but it will stop some. And if it saves the life of even one child, then it’s worth it.

I’m sickened when I hear that a child abductor, rapist and/or killer is sentenced to 10, 20 or 30 years in prison. I don’t want my tax money going for one month to shelter, feed and clothe these people who prey on children, much less for years. While they obtain free medical and dental services, their victims’ families and friends must endure years of living with wounds that will never heal.

Again, I know some people believe that my eye-for-an-eye method is morally wrong and that no one has the right to take another person’s life, but I don’t care. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. I hope something never happens to them or their families that would change their minds. As for me, I’ll continue to believe that all of these perpetrators’ lives combined are not worth the life of even one precious child.

John D. HamillWhidbey Island, Wash.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now