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Letters 12/1/08

- December 1st, 2008
When vets disagree...
On Veterans Day, we, of the Veterans for Peace (VFP), placed at the open space in Traverse City, the symbolic crosses of 168 Michigan Iraq/Afghanistan war veterans that have been killed in action. We did so to honor our fallen brothers and sisters. Placing those crosses was difficult emotionally for all of us. Each cross and photo represented a soldier taken from his loved ones, never to return. And we know countless others are coming home severely wounded, both physically and emotionally.
As president of VFP, I feel obligated to respond to a presentation/panel discussion which was disrupted at the Old Arts Building in Leland on Veterans Day. I am a combat infantry Vietnam veteran. I have been awarded the Silver Star, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, and other medals. I have suffered from post traumatic stress for the past 40+ years, due to wars horrifying experiences.
And I remember our presence in Vietnam was senseless.
My brothers of the VFP who were gracious enough to accompany me to Leiand on Veterans Day, and participate on the panel are well educated and thoughtful. We spoke to the themes given to us,, and did so to the best of our ability. I was not allowed the chance to speak of my return home from war because I was interrupted by angry veterans that disrupted our presentation. We were dubbed “not real veterans.” Referred to as “castrati.” We were personally attacked and disrespected as we tried to speak of the negative effects of war.
Our statement of purpose is: “we, having dutifully served out nation, do hereby affirm our greater responsibility to serve the cause of world peace.” Therein lies our philosophy.
Armistice day originated as a “day dedicated to peace.” What better way to honor our veterans than to talk about peace.
This I know. All veterans that have fought on the front line, infantry, and have experienced the intensity and anxiety of war, would never want their children to experience the same. Why then do some veterans glorify war when we should be glorifying the veterans, not just on Veterans Day, but each and every day of the year?

Tim Keenan • TC

The forgettable Browns
Your piece on Lion Facts (November 17-23) fifth bullet point is inaccurate. The Cleveland Browns have also never been to the Super Bowl. That’s okay -- everybody always forgets about The Browns.

Jeff Hall • via email

Beyond racial labels
I can’t seem to find anyone that will answer my question: Why is Mr. Obama an African American?
First, he’s not African, he’s American. Second, he’s white as much as black.
I’d like to think he’s an American who has been elected our president and I wish him all the luck in the world. I sincerely hope that he can produce the ‘change’ he’s promised with all the good old girls and boys he’s picked for his ‘new’ cabinet members.
He has a horrendous job ahead of him because after the last eight years it’s going to take some real magic to help this country.

Jo Moss • Manton
Vietnam today
“Why are Americans still fighting the war?”
That’s the question we were asked repeatedly by the Vietnamese while on a recent Elderhostel tour of Vietnam and its neighbors. They were referring, of course, to what we call the Vietnam War and what they call the American War.
This was a war of choice for us, a war of aggression that inflicted untold horrors on men, women, and children that were no threat to us. It also caused the death of over 58,000 of our own brave young men and women.
The horrors continue today in Vietnam with thousands of unexploded ordinance lying in wait for unsuspecting children and farmers, and in the Agent Orange still contaminating the soil of rice fields and forests. We saw the posters of warning in the children’s schoolrooms.
The horrors of war also continue in our own country, with physically disabled veterans, families who have now lived for decades without their loved ones, and many homeless veterans who suffer from PTSD and other unresolved mental and emotional issues.
The idea that war is a solution has been a myth perpetuated by governments to justify going after another country’s resources, or to calm the trumped-up fears of a nation.
The world cannot long endure the cost in lives, environmental devastation, or dollars (currently $10 billion a month in Iraq alone) that endless war causes. Nuclear war would be the end of life on earth as we know it.
That is why we might follow the lead of the friendly, industrious, forward-looking new generation of Vietnamese people when they say they have long ago put the war behind them and are living in the present and working for the future.
We can and must find a better way to settle differences and cooperate with the rest of the world for a safe and sustainable future.

Ann Rogers • TC

Bay Harbor solution?
The Water & Air Team for Charlevoix (WATCH) has been observing the Bay Harbor leachate situation for several months with considerable interest and with growing concern. It was a major topic of discussion at our recent meeting. We learned from Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council that only 20 percent of the leachate comes from the East Park. The CKD (cement kiln dust) piles in this area are being properly sealed with a cap and up-gradient diversion wells installed. The remaining 80 percent of the leachate comes from CKD piles under the golf course. Properly sealing and installing wells reduces the leachate flow by as much as 40 percent.
We feel that injecting the leachate into a well at Alba is a very bad idea because the science indicates that it could affect the Lake Charlevoix watershed, and possibly other watersheds, in the long term. We feel that the problem should be handled on-site. Therefore we have passed the following resolution:
WATCH is opposed to the Alba injection well.
The CKD piles under the golf course should be capped and up-gradient diversion wells should be installed as was done in the East Park. This should be done in a timely manner.
The Petoskey waste water treatment plant should be upgraded to handle the leachate and reduce the mercury and other heavy metals from entering the bay. This should also be done in a timely manner.

Bill Henne, president • Charlevoix

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