LETTERS TO THE EDITOR FOR NOVEMBER 26-DECEMBER 8
Learn about world
To the Editor:
We need to read and learn all we can about the countries our government is currently involved with.
The West imposed a new nation Israel on top of an existing people. The Palestinians have been fleeing for their lives and retaliating for almost 55 years. Their conflict overflowed into Jordan and Lebanon. The Muslim world could not forget their families massacred in refugee camps in these three nations. We know that terrorism will never right those wrongs, but we need to understand the heart and soul of a people who dont care if they blow themselves up.
War was the invention of rich lords to send off young men believing in the glory of a valiant death. If there had been any pacifists able to stand up to the brutality, perhaps we would have a more peaceful and less passive world today.
Osama bin Laden loves war. He tells his fighters it is glorious to die for their cause. Our country does not tell its soldiers to go out and get killed. Let us hope our country learns to defend itself without breeding future wars.
Let us hope we can say to each other Peace on Earth and really mean it. We need to believe in peace for the whole earth, not just our nation, or it will be hollow and short-lived.
I encourage everyone to learn all they can about Pakistan because we have endangered it gravely by our actions. We must make sure Pakistan does not become another Lebanon, destroyed by violence from conflicts outside its borders.
Finally, wear your peace sign and your flag in your heart. Make a new friend. He might not think like you, but youll learn something from him.
India visit eye-opener
To the Editor:
The state of our country prompted me to read my own journal entry about a visit to India 30 years ago. We were there during celebrations marking their independence from England. The parade had military units from armed Gurkas on camels to modern tanks complete with rockets.
We attended a film, but before the movie began, a picture of the Indian flag was shown and the Indian national anthem was played. I was suddenly struck with the idea that this is already one world, though we dont realize it yet and we dont all act like it.
We heard a Hindu saying: If you walk seven steps with a stranger, he becomes your brother or sister.
At Mahatma Gandhis ashram, a boarding school for boys, we gathered with the students and staff by a tree under which stood Gandhis rocking chair, spectacles and slippers. Each student had a small horizontal spinning wheel upon which he was spinning cotton thread. Prayers were sung in Hindi.
We met Gandhis guru and asked him what message we should take back to our students. He wrote three words: truth, love and compassion. We asked, How do we do this? and his answer was, These three words show the way.
We found the Indian people happy, smiling, gay and accepting; they were curious, childlike and peaceful. At a bus station, I left Margaret while I looked for lodging. When I returned, she was surrounded by 50 or 60 friendly boys and men and being plied with questions. They had something important that we dont see in America. They laughed with us. They were not afraid nor frustrated. They knew who they were. As we departed India, lumps came to our throats and tears to our eyes.
Mallard tells us the truth
To the Editor:
I watched with interest the furor over Mallard Fillmore in The Observer and, as the old saying goes, opinions are like navels, everybody has one. I am no exception. I feel that taking the duck out of the newspaper is infringing on the First Amendment of the Constitution: freedom of speech and freedom of the press. It would be a travesty to deprive those of us who are not flaming liberals from a counterbalance to Doonesbury.
I defy anyone to find anything that Mallard has expressed in the cartoon that is not true. Several years ago Andy Huber wanted to tar and feather Mallard. Fortunately, The Observer didnt see fit to remove the cartoon. However several years before that Mr. Huber criticized Cal Thomas only because he was a lot older in person than his photo (which, incidentally, was not true). The Observer has not had one of Cal Thomas articles since. I realize that this paper is trying to be balanced. It prints articles by Mona Charen and Linda Chavez, while having cartoons on the opinion page with a liberal bent. But occasionally I would like to read articles by George Will, William Safire, and yes, Cal Thomas. It wouldnt hurt to have a few more conservative views to counterbalance the liberal media. And put Oliphant back, please. He has not had a cartoon in The Observer since he criticized Bill Clinton.
I am not advocating removing Doonesbury; we need other opinions no matter how slanted. Removing Mallard would be a crime. Dwight Matthews quoted my old friend, Voltaire, and I feel it time to repeat it. I disapprove with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. He also said, Liberty of thought is the life of the soul.
Fillmore hitting close to home
To the Editor:
The Mallard Fillmore cartoon must be hitting close to home for some people if they take time to write a term paper about it.
Come in off the street
To the Editor:
In reference to war on terrorism demonstrations on Thursday nights, I cannot believe that people have nothing better to do than to stand on a street corner and wave signs around bearing their attitudes toward the war.
I find it absolutely appalling and I am ashamed for all of you, on both sides of the street. Its little more than bickering among siblings.
There are soldiers who are thousands of miles away from their loved ones, people still missing in what used to be the World Trade Center, and children who are spending their first holiday season without a parent. Even worse, there are the homeless, the abused children, victims of domestic violence, and the poverty-stricken.
All of these people are in dire need of love, support, even a warm card to let them know someone cares. Devote that time you are spending on the street to your children, or to writing out thank you cards to the soldiers for volunteering for duty so we dont have to rely on a draft, educate yourselves and each other on domestic violence, volunteer time at one of the wonderful after-school programs being run or put together food baskets for the needy.
Change is not going to be accomplished by standing on a street corner waving signs.
Alishia Koller, college student
Not comfortable with Safeway site
To the Editor:
Your Nov. 26 editorial is correct in asking some questions of the La Grande City Council with regard to a new library.
I have never been comfortable with the old Safeway site for a library.
There are several things wrong with the site including costs, removal of choice taxable property, and in my opinion a poor location for such a public entity.
A solution to the vexing problems of siting a city library may emerge after input from Union County residents outside the city limits. It is time to wait and see where those citizens place their votes and opinions.
If they decide to not enter into a countywide library district, then I think we should move ahead with designing and building a new facility across Penn Avenue from the present site in the vacant lot. A multi-story building with parking at ground level should be considered.
Considering much of the past input from city residents indicated a strong desire to keep the present type of location, the city council should put a plan before us to keep the present site, with its trees and a residential feel.
We should do all we can to promote and help ODS in the purchase of the property for their needs and develop the property for other businesses.
If ODS leaves the GTE building, it will leave behind a a very desirable location for another firm needing a great deal of communication ability a wonderful economic development tool.
Look and see what youve done
To the Editor:
This is directed to the girl who hit our car while we were driving along H Avenue passing the parking lot at the high school. I am not going to give your name. You know who you are.
You got a little red paint on your bumper; our Grand Am was totaled. You never sought to find out how we were. I guess that you were just glad that you had no damage.
Well, I was injured and am in therapy. Your insurance only gave half of what our car was worth. We were only days from moving to Utah but had to change our plans; we also had to take our moving money to buy another car.
In case you dont understand all of this, we may lose the house that we bought in Utah before we even get there. You see we only had enough to pay the closing costs and for the trip.
You not only hurt me physically but may end up making us lose everything just because you had to drive too fast and not look where you were going.
I hope that you learn something from this. You see we are senior citizens and are on a limited income.
I hope that you are proud of what you have done. You injured an old woman who is disabled and pulled the rug out from under us.
Thank you for only thinking of yourself and not who was on the road. I hope you lose your license until you grow up a little more. Driving is a privilege not a right. The car that you totaled was a gift to us.
Its privilege to be patriotic
To the Editor:
This is my Christian conviction since Sept. 11: Jesus is the center of every Christians life when we seek to live in Gods kingdom.
Jesus, his name is Savior, his person is love, his book is the Bible Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth and it reveals to us mankind when we honestly and openly listen to him.
There have been times when Ive told him what to do or how to do it and Ive found that it doesnt work too well. After all He is wiser than I am. In fact He is wiser than all of us.
God is love and love is such an inclusive word. We are his creation; therefore, love should be a preliminary part of us, emotions, convictions and actions. Learning to love is, for anyone, Christian or not, a continual challenge. We are commanded to love, to love the sinner but to hate the sin.
For a Christian to say he is a pacifist is like a parent standing before a terrorist. First the terrorist slits his throat and then moves on take the lives of others if they try to fight back in passivity.
As a Christian, I feel that we are commanded to love people but at the same time hate their crime. Just as a parent is responsible for the family, so the nation is responsible for her citizens.
As a Christian I appreciate the privilege of being patriotic to all that is good and right and the opportunity to stand against that which is wrong especially to stand against evil.
Oregon has strange questioning law
To the Editor:
What do you think? In reference to the article on the Region page of the Nov. 22 Observer: Portland police refusing to cooperate with the feds.
Do you suppose Oregon is the only coastal state in the nation with a law that says no one can be questioned by police unless suspected of being involved in a crime?
Arent interviewing and questioning in a sense synonymous?
Do the Portland police not think that the 5,000 men the Justice Department is seeking are suspected of possibly being involved in some crime or criminal intent, since they either were or are here and weve lost them?
If our sheriff requested Portlands help in finding someone who he suspects, would their police react in the same way?
Do you feel safer because of Oregons law?
If you were a terrorist, do you think you would feel safer in Oregon than other coastal states, because of its law?
If you were a terrorist, wouldnt you think Portland would feel somewhat equivalent to Butch Cassidys Hole in the Wall?
I love Oregon.
Dont misread what Im saying.
If I were a terrorist, which I dont believe I am though Mother once said I was a holy-terror, whatever that is could I love Oregon even more because of its strange law?
What do you think?
Keep Adams Avenue vibrant
To the Editor:
I agree with Mondays editorial about ODS and the old Safeway location. I am part of the local ownership of the building at 1901 Adams Ave. that the State of Oregon has leased for the past 30-plus years.
You neglected to mention the other state offices that serve the public of Union County have determined that Gekeler Lane on university property is a better location. The state will be completely vacating the location on Adams and leaving an 18,000-square-foot building empty. We have kept quiet about this issue in hopes the state would stay on Adams. I do not think many people know this.
We expanded the building 11 years ago to meet the states needs. We could have easily expanded or have built a new building that met all the needs of the state at the current location. But due to the political and the bureaucratic forces of state employees, they have opted in favor of urban sprawl and an inferior location to serve the public. That leaves us trying to find a new tenant for one of the largest office buildings in town. That could take time.
The fact is, it will most likely end up costing the state more at the Gekeler location. I know the lease rate is more than what we could have done it for. If my sources are correct the building is being built by a developer out of Portland, and the university will take over ownership of the building at the end of the 10-year lease. The state offices most likely will have to move as the university will then move into more of the building due to its expansion plans.
Id appreciate your support to stop this crazy departure off of Adams and create and keep a vibrant downtown.
Ross L. Eveson
Conservative Christians back recall
To the Editor:
Watch what is happening in Baker City. The right-wing Christian conservatives are trying to remove an irritant from Baker City politics.
A Baker City councilman is facing a recall election in December because he has insisted that city council meetings ought not to start with a prayer that specifies only one religion. If a prayer is called for at a city council meeting, it should be a prayer that includes all religions and is not exclusive to Christianity. Councilor Gary Dielman, who is under fire, states that he chooses nondiscrimination over government-led prayers.
This is small-town politics at its capitalistic best. Financial disclosures just released show that the proponents for the recall, Citizens for Responsible Government, already have spent $13,000 on the recall. This is to recall a city councilor whose term will expire in about a year. Why would they spend so much money? This is a pure power play by conservative Christians.
The ballot-by-mail recall election will cost the city $5,700, which it can ill afford.
In the last Baker County sheriffs election, there was an unprecedented $45,000 spent to elect a Republican sheriff. Where is all the money coming from? Why is it being spent?
What is happening in your community? Is more and more money being spent on elections and are more and more right-wing conservative Christians being elected or appointed to government positions?
The Baker City election will be in mid-December. Baker City councilors are not paid for their service, and Councilor Dielman does not have very much money to spend. Local letters to the editor about the recall are very supportive of Dielman and angry about the attempted exclusion of other religions from the city council process. Will big money win out?
Salute for Cripps leadership
To the Editor:
A recent front-page article in The Observer reported that La Grande High School students would begin reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. This was a project spearheaded by Angel Cripps in memory of her father.
The members of High Valley Post 4060 of the VFW were so impressed with her effort and subsequent success that they asked me to send a thank you note to Angel.
At first, I intended to send a personal message, but, on further thought, felt that a public response was more appropriate.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars is an organization of those who have served overseas in the military during times of conflict. Our post has members from World War II to present conflicts. We are elated when we see actions such as Angels and the support and approval of her peers on the Student Senate and that of the student body.
Angels leadership and patriotism is an example that our youth, and indeed all of us, can follow.
Edward L. Williams, adjutant
High Valley Post 4060, VFW
Wizardry not appropriate
To the Editor:
I read the article about Harry Potter and the Hogwart program on Page 1 of the Nov. 15 Observer.
I am appalled that the Presbyterian Friendship Center would allow wizardry, which is Satanism, to be taught in its facility.
It would be far better to have a program which teaches the children Bible verses and how to become a Christian, which promises eternal life in heaven with God.
Apologize to YFU student
To the Editor:
La Grande School Board member Shari Bennetts so-called statement and apology printed in the Nov. 17 Observer succeeded mostly in defending her own illegal actions. She has not yet acknowledged her behavior recently or last year as even wrong. Mrs. Bennett has also given no explanations as to why she was in the students files in the first place. What was she planning on doing with the information gathered from the Youth for Understanding files? The community deserves an explanation.
And although she apologized to YFU volunteers and staff members, who unfortunately had to work through this ordeal, she has not yet apologized to the YFU exchange student whose privacy rights she violated. It is only appropriate that Mrs. Bennett apologize to the YFU student.
Her actions were, to say the least, unwelcoming to someone new to our country, city and high school. It is extremely unfortunate that the foreign exchange student was a victim of such violations of her personal rights especially in a country where the peoples rights are valued above all else. It is also a shame that the exchange students cultural experience in the United States had to be tarnished by this elected officials gross abuse of power.
Nella Parks, La Grande High School student
VFW does so very much
To the Editor:
Pearl Harbor is a day that every American should remember. More Americans were killed by enemy actions than in any other war.
The attacks of Sept. 11 were from a different sort of enemy, and still more Americans were killed.
Pearl Harbor occurred 60 years ago and Union County has three Pearl Harbor survivors. Dec. 7 will be remembered and memorized by Veterans of Foreign Wars High Valley Post 4060.
Id like to tell you how the veterans of the High Valley Post in Union spend our money. I was asked by a group in Union why we didnt spend some of our money on their project.
We (the VFW) provide cash for the Voice of Democracy and the Essay Contest, plus a scholarship program.
Our building, heat and lights are always available to any civic group.
We take a great deal of pride in carrying the colors in any parade in the county.
We raise the colors at the Bobcat Field on the flagpole that the post donated to them.
We have wheelchairs, canes, walkers and a limited supply of other medical equipment available to lend to any person.
Of our post budget, 90 percent goes back into the community and 9 percent is for building maintenance. Less than 1 percent is for the post and auxiliary.
Many of the veterans doing these projects are your neighbors, brothers, uncles, sisters and your fathers.
Give them a hand. Let them know that the things they are doing are appreciated.
When they volunteer and display our flag, you know why they are doing it and the sacrifice they have made to help you to support the military and all the veterans who need your help.
Carmen V. Gambill,
High Valley Post 4060
Nod our heads proudly
To the Editor:
We were extremely disappointed in the editorial in the Nov. 26 edition of The Observer.
Just when a sound and workable solution to the problem of the library is presented, someone on your staff chooses to shoot down this proposal and go back to the idea of combining the city library with the college.
Perhaps the person who wrote the editorial has not paid attention to the wishes of the public, or perhaps is not aware of or doesnt take advantage of the services provided by the local library.
In any case, we are hopeful that the city council and staff can continue to pursue this proposal.
Someday in the not-too-distant future, a visitor can turn off Interstate 84, drive down Adams Avenue and be greeted by a small park, a library and City Hall. Combine this with the beauty of our area and they are bound to recognize that this is a city where the quality of life matters.
We can nod our heads proudly and know that we are functioning the way our people want us to in spite of the stand taken by the local newspaper.
Patty and John Turner
Help make a difference on Dec. 6
To the Editor:
Sept. 11 has focused our attention on the suffering caused by terrorism. However, we should also keep in mind the needs of our community. These needs have not gone away.
The attack has caused us to wonder what can we do this time to make a difference? One important answer that has emerged is volunteering, making, as President Bush said, a commitment to service in our own community.
A strong community is a strong defense against terrorism of any kind. AARP is answering the call and reaffirming its tradition of local community service. As a first step , AARP and AARP Oregon have issued a call to service urging members everywhere to set aside Dec. 6 as a day of service, to be devoted to hands-on volunteer work in our local communities.
Union County should join in this effort. Many of the members in our local community are already involved in some aspect of volunteer work, but we could always use more help.
Individual members could seek out volunteer opportunities with organizations in this area, such as Meals on Wheels, Big Brothers/Big Sisters or the food bank. Many organizations have experienced shortages of volunteers, supplies and funds while our attention has been focused on the Sept. 11 relief effort.
We invite everyone to join with us on Dec. 6 in AARPs Day of Service. There is work for many hands and hearts. By volunteering, we can make a difference, for now and for the future of this land we love.
Johannes Spronk and Glenna Sams
co-presidents of Union County Retired Educators
Granite never out of touch
To the Editor:
After reading Its Hammer Time in tonights Observer (Nov. 28), we must take exception to the article.
Not wanting to take away from Mike Hammers efforts on behalf of the city of Granite we still must argue with the statement that the city has phone service for the first time in its 139-year history.
Both of us have lived in Granite, both as children and as adults. My husband was there as a child in the 1930s and I as a teen-ager in the 40s. During both of these times there were telephones in Granite. My summer job was working in the Granite Store and there was a telephone in the store at that time.
After we were married, we moved back to Granite as my husband took a job with California-Pacific Utilities and we lived at the Fremont Power Plant, 5 miles out of Granite. At this time it was our responsibility, with the Buffalo Mine, to maintain the telephone line from Sumpter to Fremont Power Plant and the mine. It was a one-line system using ground as the other line. It took a lot of maintenance as trees and limbs grounded the line out.
In 1959 my father died in Fairbanks, Alaska, and it took three long-distance phone calls from Fremont to Fairbanks to make all of the necessary arrangements and the phone system was certainly adequate to make the calls.
It is also our understanding that there were phones before our time according to some of the old timers who were there long before us.
It makes a good story to make it sound that the town was very remote and out of touch, but it just isnt true.
Hank & Myrna Potts
To the Editor:
Shari Bennett has received much press of late suggesting a lack of character, abuse of position and other unethical behavior.
Through the 12 years of membership on the La Grande School Board she has given huge amounts of time, expertise, dedication and leadership. She has consistently held a position of integrity on all issues and matters that have come to the boards attention.
She and her husband have excelled as parents in raising outstanding children who also have contributed greatly to the school community and community at large.
After reading The Observer's Nov. 23 letter to the editor from the Parkses, it seemed odd that they would accuse Mrs. Bennett of abusing confidentiality of student files when they themselves have identified and most likely damaged a student in the process of writing such a letter.
It is an honor and privilege to support Shari Bennett and her family.
To the Editor:
I wonder, is Osama Bin Laden the new editor in chief at CNN?
Judging by their way of advertising the program: CNN investigates: Are we prepared?, it looks like they are doing their best to help him in his effort to terrorize the population of the United States.
Show support for Coach Cushman
To the Editor:
I would like to publicly acknowledge my support for former Eastern Oregon University football coach Rob Cushman.
I realize that I have only been a part of the Eastern football team for two years, and not being a player, I do not have a defined role in the program. However, Coach Cushman made it extremely clear that he wanted me to be a part of the team and lend whatever contributions I could.
I have the utmost respect for Cushman, who has resigned. With a new athletic director and the rebirth of the Mountaineer Booster Club, Eastern Oregon University athletics is headed in a positive direction. I hope that Coach Cushman will give some more consideration to this decision.
I encourage others to have the courage to publicly support Cushman as well.
What if Jesus showed up?
To the Editor:
I address this letter to the pro-war faction, amply represented by the many bellicose letters in The Observer, and especially to Phillip Achilles because he has been held up as a shining example of right-thinking American youth and someone from whom we could all take a lesson.
I have just one question: If Jesus Christ showed up at Max Square next Thursday and repeated his Sermon on the Mount, how would you respond to Him?
Observer readers were asked what the U.S. flag means to them. The newspaper shares their responses today, the 60th anniversary of Japans attack on Pearl Harbor.
Christmas in America 2001
Flags are waving on this Christmas Day,
Our fathers and sons have marched away.
Some dear daughters joined them too,
Christmas colors are changed to red, white and blue.
So light the candles on your mantle tall,
To honor those heroes who answered the call,
Of a wounded nation now roused from sleep,
Theyve got miles to travel and vows to keep.
Did we complacently think that our peace would last?
We forgot to look closely at our countrys past.
Theres always been a battle between wrong and right,
Theres always been an enemy waiting to put out the light.
But Libertys torch still shines on this land;
Shell never forsake us if we make a brave stand,
And take up the banner In God We Trust,
No enemy can conquer or trail in the dust,
The goodness and freedoms with which God blessed this nation,
So strengthen your heart and take up your station,
Supporting our dear ones who are on the front lines,
Celebrate Christmas with courage and we wont trail behind.
God bless America.
Flag represents faith, hope, justice
I am your flag.
I am the symbol of the living America, the badge of freedom, the emblem of its greatness.
I am faith. It is I who keep men mindful of their strong and honorable heritage, life, liberty, property and the right to pursue happiness.
I am hope. I represent the land of promise wherein mans loftiest dreams have already been realized and where there are no boundaries to ones potential.
I am life. Each strand and fiber of my being is a memorial that it might live forever dedicated to the sacrifices of all those brave men and women who have lived and died in our nations services.
I am tolerance. So long as I shall wave, all people under my protection may freely worship, think, write and speak undaunted by the shadow of fear.
I am justice, tempered with mercy, for I am a friend to the oppressed and downtrodden of every land.
I am a stabilizer of the present and a promise of the future. I wave over schools throughout the nation, and in them the nations future is molded. I am the flag of the United States of America, the last, best hope for peace on earth.
(In support of Phillip Achilles and his partners, our future leaders of this great nation.)
How the flag makes me feel
Our class would like to respond to your editorial requesting comments about the flag with a group poem. We are studying the history of North America. We are learning about the importance of our flag to our country. To help your readers understand our feelings, each student contributed an idea or line to our poem.
We understand that printing our names may be difficult so you may sign us the Enterprise fifth grade.
You ask what I feel as the American flag waves ...
I feel like a true American,
Proud to be free, united safe,
Good inside, happy, joyous,
Like a new man or woman
As our flag flies highest.
You wonder what it,
Means to me,
Red, white and blue ...
It means to be proud,
To stick together, to work in unison,
Together we stand, divided we fall.
It means that we haveFreedom of speech and religion.
Its a symbol of love, friendship,Honor and truth.
For these reasons I recite the pledge each day.
Lorri Fischers fifth-grade class
Conquer we must, when cause is just
Be it little or large, the American flag still speaks to me as it did to Francis Scott Key when he penned the words to The Star-spangled Banner. That piece of cloth, with its 50 bright stars on a field of blue and 13 broad stripes alternating red and white, proudly waves to the world, we are still the land of the free, and the home of the brave.
While our stars increase in number, as our boundaries reach out to include more people, our stripes remain solid at 13. The 13 stripes remind us of our foundations. We once stood with only 13 original colonies. But, we were 13 colonies led by men who honored God. Those men were led by Him to establish a government of the people, for the people and by the people. Our nation is unique in this form of government.
Our flag still proudly proclaims the mess- age of the Star-spangled Banner. The words of the second verse are especially poignant today.
O thus be it ever, when free men shall stand, between their loved homes and the wars desolation. Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven rescued land, praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation. Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just. And this be our motto, In God is our trust. And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave, over the land of the free, and the home of the brave.