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Your Views: Government should honor veterans fully
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I share the sentiments expressed in so many letters to the editor on Veterans Day that pledged support of money, pride and prayers for our veterans and their families.

However, tangible honoring must involve more than waving flags and saluting graves. I want to add my voice to those millions of other appreciative Americans who speak out for the care and respect our men and women in uniform deserve.

First, our wounded vets should receive the best medical and emotional care possible. I am ashamed of my government when I hear that some who have been injured in battle and received Purple Hearts, only to come home and be reclassified as having pre-existing "personality disorder" and denied benefits.

I am ashamed that the neglect and deplorable conditions faced by our vets at the Walter Reed Hospital went uncorrected for five years. Max Cleland, who lost half of his body defending our country said, "I learned in Vietnam that the best way to support our troops is to either give them the forces and equipment needed to win or bring them home so we can care for those who have borne the battle."

Second, our service personnel deserve the absolute best armor and protective gear possible. It is disturbing to hear that family members back home have to send money to those on the front lines to buy metal plates to refortify their vehicles. I myself sent money to buy upgrades for Marine helmets to better protect against brain injuries. I was glad to do it as a small expression of support, but why was it ever necessary? Since when did protecting tax breaks for the richest among us become more important than protecting the lives of those who are fighting for our freedom?

Third, I demand from my government honest and straightforward reporting of the war. Our troops should not be used for propaganda, as with the hyped-up myth surrounding the dramatic rescue of Jessica Lynch or the cover-up of the manner in which Pat Tillman was killed.

It is also unfair to hide the caskets of our fallen heroes being shipped home. All Americans, every one of us, should be exposed to the pain and sacrifice that is being made by the few. There has never been a war conceived as so painless as this one. Very few Americans are paying any real price.

Fourth, how in the world do we think that we can torture our enemies without giving them permission to torture our soldiers?

Fifth, after 40 years, why has Congress not yet responded to the survivors of the USS Liberty demanding an inquiry into the cause of the attack on their unarmed reconnaissance ship, killing 34 of their fellow sailors and wounding 175 others?

As we honor our veterans, should we not demand that our government do the same? It is not enough to thank a vet. We must also stand up for them when they are dishonored.

Thomas L. Are
Big Canoe

Priest is condoning illegal immigration
Regarding the article "Celebrating ‘Our Lady'" on Dec. 16, Father Sotelo seems to imply that the Latino community is the only one with devotion to the Virgin Mary within the Catholic community. I am non-Latino Catholic and I have a devotion to Our Lady, as do many others I know.

We also know that Jesus is the focus and always front and center of our faith, just as the Virgin Mary wishes. I fear that Father Sotelo's comments may reinforce the belief of some of the Protestant community that we worship Mary. That is against Catholic doctrine.

I also want to state that I strongly resent the use of the Blessed Virgin Mary for political ends. She is sacred. Have you no shame?

Father Sotelo states that immigration is a "human right ... If you are persecuted by any politics, you have a right to protect yourself." How very naive and foolish. How many in the Latino community are here because they had to escape political persecution? No, every human being does not have the right to emigrate. If that were true, what use are nations and laws? Immigration law was created for good reasons of national security and welfare. We should ignore those reasons and let anyone in any time?

How about terrorists? Should we roll out the welcome mat for them, too?

Maybe we should begin a program to ship in people from Third World countries on other continents. They are undoubtedly living in much worse conditions than most people in Mexico and South America. Many are politically persecuted. Is it fair that the only reason they can't "emigrate" to our country is because they are separated from us by oceans instead of easily traversed deserts and rivers?

We could fill our nation to the brim with the world's hungry, poor, jobless and persecuted until our backs were broken, resources dried up, pockets empty and we could no longer support even ourselves, much less anyone else. Yet still, there would be countless suffering people in other countries.

When Father Sotelo speaks of immigrants, I think he is referring to illegal aliens. They are not immigrants; they are trespassers. If you are without food and hungry, do you have the right to break into a store to steal bread? What they have done is against the law and, more importantly, dangerous to our nation. If we cannot control our borders, we will one day cease to exist as a nation.

The movement for illegal immigrants' rights cannot be compared to the civil rights movement, which was based on the principle that every human being is entitled to be treated equally, with dignity and respect. The civil rights movement was about fighting unjust laws. Immigration law is just law and needs to be enforced for the nation's good.

There are ways to live and act as Christ commanded and still stay within the law. We can still be loving and charitable. We can work to right wrongs. We can still refuse to judge someone based on race or country of origin. We should, however, let our legal system work as it is designed to protect us.

And I have a suggestion for St. Michael Catholic Church. If you would like to see unity within your parish, a good first step might be eliminating trilingual masses. They encourage separatism. How will parishioners of the different cultures get to know one another if they never see each other? It would also help and encourage the assimilation process and hasten learning English.

Anita Nettles
Gainesville

Even Santa forgets to show courtesy
What happened to just being polite and saying "thank you" or "you're welcome"? Also, when someone says "hello," what happened to a simple "hello" back or a simple smile?

I am saddened to say our world has become so unfriendly and impolite. It's hard for my young granddaughters to understand why a grown-up will not respond to a friendly "hello" or "thank you" while we try to teach them what good manners are all about.

Stress and pressures of living in this day and age sometimes cause us to be preoccupied, but it has gotten so bad when I say "hello" or "thank you" or even smile, people just look at me. I'll answer myself back. That's what good manners are.

Before I end my complaining, my real "beef" about good manners came up when I was a the mall and met Santa Claus face to face with a polite "hello" and smile. What was his reply? Nothing.

My reply back to him was, "Ho Ho Ho!, Merry Christmas, and may you find a piece of coal in your stocking"! I had to use my manners.

Brenda Brown
Talmo

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