Letters

Letters 05-23-2016

Examine The Priorities Are you disgusted about closing schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and cuts everywhere? Investigate funding priorities of legislators. In 1985 at the request of President Reagan, Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). For 30 years Norquist asked every federal and state candidate and incumbent to sign the pledge to vote against any increase in taxes. The cost of living has risen significantly since 1985; think houses, cars, health care, college, etc...

Make TC A Community For Children Let’s be that town that invests in children actively getting themselves to school in all of our neighborhoods. Let’s be that town that supports active, healthy, ready-to-learn children in all of our neighborhoods...

Where Are Real Christian Politicians? As a practicing Christian, I was very disappointed with the Rev. Dr. William C. Myers statements concerning the current presidential primaries (May 8). Instead of using the opportunity to share the message of Christ, he focused on Old Testament prophecies. Christ gave us a new commandment: to love one another...

Not A Great Plant Pick As outreach specialist for the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network and a citizen concerned about the health of our region’s natural areas, I was disappointed by the recent “Listen to the Local Experts” feature. When asked for their “best native plant pick,” three of the four garden centers referenced non-native plants including myrtle, which is incredibly invasive...

Truth About Plants Your feature, “listen to the local experts” contains an error that is not helpful for the birds and butterflies that try to live in northwest Michigan. Myrtle is not a native plant. The plant is also known as vinca and periwinkle...

Ask the Real Plant Experts This letter is written to express my serious concern about a recent “Listen To Your Local Experts” article where local nurseries suggested their favorite native plant. Three of the four suggested non-native plants and one suggested is an invasive and cause of serious damage to Michigan native plants in the woods. The article is both sad and alarming...

My Plant Picks In last week’s featured article “Listen to the Local Experts,” I was shocked at the responses from the local “experts” to the question about best native plant pick. Of the four “experts” two were completely wrong and one acknowledged that their pick, gingko tree, was from East Asia, only one responded with an excellent native plant, the serviceberry tree...

NOTE: Thank you to TC-based Eagle Eye Drone Service for the cover photo, taken high over Sixth Street in Traverse City.

Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · The Fifth of July
. . . .

The Fifth of July

Stephen Tuttle - July 4th, 2011
The Fifth of July
We have arrived at that uniquely American celebration, Independence Day.
We hope for good weather and fireworks, sparklers, hot dogs and family picnics. We revel in the day, celebrating 235 years of freedom from the dastardly King George and his British minions and the succession of other miscreants and despots we’ve vanquished since.
Another tradition this time of year is an e-mail that gets widely circulated. The basic premise is that none of the freedoms we enjoy would be possible without the men and women who serve and served in our armed forces.
Those now serving in Iraq and Afghanistan continue the long tradition of Americans fighting on foreign soil in the name of ideals established back home. They are paying a staggering price. More than 6,000 have died, and nearly 36,000 have sustained wounds or injuries sufficient to require hospitalization. Many of those are catastrophic injuries, including brain trauma requiring months or years of rehabilitation.
Depending on whose numbers you trust, another 200,000 to 300,000 are suffering the very real and disabling effects of post traumatic stress disorder.
To their credit, President Obama and Congress have increased funding for the Veterans’ Administration specifically to try and deal with the medical and rehabilitation needs of our returning vets. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough. Nor have we even begun to address other issues afflicting returning vets.
It is an ongoing puzzlement and shame that our veterans, especially those returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters, who did so well on our behalf on foreign soil are doing so poorly once they return home.
They have significantly higher divorce rates than non-vets in the same demographic groups and returning women vets are three times more likely to get divorced than their male counterparts. They have higher rates of drug abuse and addiction, including alcoholism, than the general public. They are more likely to encounter the criminal justice system and not in a good way.
Most tragically, according to the Veterans’ Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate among returning vets in the 18-29 age group has reached a stunning 44.7 per 100,000, nearly four times the national average.
Despite the commercials showing bright young men and women learning valuable skills and obtaining a practical education to help them in the civilian work force, chronic unemployment might be the most daunting reality facing returning vets. It turns out risking life and limb in a combat zone does not provide the skill set necessary for gainful employment in today’s economy.
According to the Department of Labor, unemployment among vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is 14.7% compared to about 9% for the rest of us. For young vets, 18-24, it’s even worse, a stultifying 21.1%.
It is a lot of sacrificing being done by a small segment of our population. They deserve far better on their return home.
While we celebrate our independence, and brave men and women try to protect that independence by putting their lives at risk thousands of miles from home, our politicians here have embarked on a different path.
Congress recently extended the Patriot Act. So while we claim we’re bringing freedom to the poor, bedraggled Iraqis and Afghanis, we continue to see our own freedoms eroded.
The Patriot Act and its satellite legislation give us warrantless wire taps, traps on our cell phone and internet activity, suspension of habeas corpus, military tribunals in which normal protections we take for granted have been summarily suspended or eliminated altogether (some defendants will not even be allowed access to the evidence being used against them), detention without the right or ability to contact a lawyer or family member, and torture we euphemistically call enhanced interrogation techniques. It gives us airport security excesses that include pat-downs of three-year-olds and searches of a 95-year-old woman’s adult diaper.
We’re told it’s all essential in our war against terror, that some people don’t deserve rights even if they’ve never been convicted of anything, that these intrusions into the Bill of Rights protects us from the terrorists, that torturing prisoners is somehow acceptable if we’ve sufficiently demonized them and some useful information might be obtained in the process. And, hey, you just never know when someone’s great-great grandmother might have explosives tucked away in her Depends or when someone’s infant might have anthrax in her pacifier.
The problem is those laws being used against our worst enemies can also be used against our best citizens.
These assaults on the Bill of Rights simply are not, and cannot be, any part of what our military is defending. It would be a cruel betrayal of the sacrifices they make. Yet, the politicians continue to send them off on missions defending freedom while chipping away at ours here at home.
The Fourth of July is a time we celebrate our history and we still have much to celebrate. Once the picnics are over and the fireworks a pleasant memory perhaps we should spend a minute or two thinking about the 5th of July and beyond.
We can hope for a future Fourth of July when our politicians finally start taking care of those they’ve sent to war in the name of protecting us. And we elect politicians serious about preserving our freedoms here at home.



 
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