April 18, 2003 11:00 pm

Roosevelt thinking still shows

To the Editor:

The Observer recently has written about war resisters.

Not long ago 110,000 people came to the nation's Capitol to demand peace and call for justice-based priorities.

Later, a nationwide coalition of inter-faith religious leaders had simultaneous vigils and demonstrations in 120 American cities, all springing forth with a straight and simple message: peace.

The spiritual leader of every mainstream religious denomination in the nation except one has made a statement that war on Iraq is wrong.

Back in 1970 in Hiroshima, Japan, in the Peace Park there, I struck a large bronze bell for world peace. Almost continuously since then my own country has been involved in some kind of military action. We have not grown beyond the Teddy Roosevelt era in our foreign-policy thinking.

John Stoner has said, "A country which has dangled the sword of nuclear holocaust over the world for half a century and claims that someone else invented terrorism is a country out of touch with reality."

This well expresses my own view of my country today. I am not well nor strong enough to join all the peace marches.

I would like to.

Bill Oberteuffer

Island City

Officers face critical decisions

To the Editor:

I just finished reading the March 27 "In My View" by Randy Simmons, and it brought back vivid memories, pictures indelibly stamped in my memory, pictures I would rather not see again.

I agree wholeheartedly that war is traumatic, terrifying. I do not believe sane men ever go to war for the sport of it. There is no glory in killing another human being.

My father and I were veterans of World War II. Both of my sons are Vietnam veterans. My youngest son and I were officers.

Simmons painted a picture of the horror of war with the death of a comrade. That, friends, is war, not the glory you see in war movies.

Let me paint another picture. You are the commanding officer of an infantry rifle company. Battalion wants to know what is in front of us, so you are ordered to send out a patrol, find the enemy if possible, his strength, his heavy weaponry.

As the company commander, you will decide what 12 men to send. You know that odds are maybe eight men will return. In other words you are going to decide who is going to die tomorrow.

The wisest decision is to send experienced men, but how many times do you ask those experienced combat veterans to go risk their lives. That is one hell of a decision to have to make, but you make the decision and live with the result, as I do.

Like Simmons, I support our president and our troops. I trust our battlefield commanders. They are all my brothers and I pray for them every day. No way in this world would I ever demonstrate against what they are doing.

God bless America and our fighting men and women.

Leroy Hills

La Grande

Tribute to good friend

To the Editor:

I wrote the following as a tribute to George McClure of Owsley Canyon Drive, who died Feb. 17.

George was my good friend, fishing buddy, father-in-law and adviser. I remember him when we remodeled our business. Plumbing, wiring, painting — he could do it all, and frequently did. He sometimes had help from his partner in crime, Jim Evers.

I remember when we laid 4,000 square feet of sod at our home. We drove two of the Gilmores' pickups to get the sod, had several flat tires but finished the job in 30 hours, non-stop.

I remember George when he helped Jannie and Mac build their home in Durkee. George was always there for anyone who needed help.

In more recent years I remember George at our afternoon happy hour at the house — me, Jim, George, the Shaws, Bruce and anyone else who showed up in the driveway. We talked about anything and everything, and generally solved many world problems right there in the McClure living room.

He had a great take on life. The following are a few of his favorites, the lessons I took from our long-time friendship:

Do the right thing. Do your best. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

These are words to live by. George lived with this thought, that nobody is promised a tomorrow. You'd better grab each day as it comes.

The best of all, however, was this thought: You can only wear one pair of pants, eat so much food and sleep in one bed at a time. All the rest is gingerbread.

I cannot say how much he affected my life. He had a good life, a wonderful family, good health for many years and a personality that will be remembered.

Ernie Wiggins

Vancouver, Wash.

Free speech worth defending

To the Editor:

I am a former Marine sergeant, honorably discharged, who as a civilian spent 15 years in organizations countering domestic terrorism.

I vote and I flew the flag before Sept. 11, 2001. I would like to respond to David R. Larson's March 29 letter.

Two centuries ago Americans established a nation in which all could speak according to their own conscience. As the popular slogan goes, "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." This is the freedom we have fought to defend.

Mr. Larson, however, proposes jailing those who publicly disagree with his stand on the war.

Before he points at someone else and says "treason" and "sedition," he should take a good look at himself.

His proposals would gut the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, bringing an end to America as the "Land of the Free."

He might benefit from reading the wonderful column by T.L. Petersen, "Free speech gives uncharitable ‘church' right to protest," published just above his.

In any event I will defend to the death his right to his opinion.

God bless America.

Patrick Kelly

La Grande

Pride, patriotism not for me

To the Editor:

As of late there has been a lot of opinion of how and what people should say and think.

Having served not one but two tours in Vietnam I would like to give my opinion.

I often think that the boy who went over there is not the man who came back. That war did nothing to ensure freedom for anyone, not our nation or theirs.

I too could share experiences that were tragic and beyond thinkable. I have put that away. What I will share is that as long as there is the maiming and killing of infants, children and innocent people, pride and patriotism is not for me.

While our own are dying for the Bush agenda I feel no pride or patriotism.

Pride and patriotism can be so blinding that some can close their eyes and hearts to what is really happening.

Mass destruction is a term being used to manipulate. When will we learn from history and past mistakes? It has taken place in this country. Entire nations of Native Americans were brought to extinction.

Slavery of another race was the norm in this country for many years.

Pride. Patriotism. Not for me.

Roger Morin

La Grande

Hate response wrong

To the Editor:

It is my understanding that a group from a church in Kansas plans to come to Eastern Oregon University to protest "The Laramie Project" presentation.

I want to publicly say that our church does not endorse "hate" nor do we endorse "homosexual behavior." The truly Christian response is to offer help, not hate, to those who struggle with sin.

Several area pastors, including Ted Davis of the Faith Center; Brent Clapp, Nazarene Church;, Duane Smiley, New Song; Dan Mielke, Union Baptist; Bill Miller, Valley Fellowship; and Scott Brazil, Grace Bible, wholeheartedly agree with this statement:

We believe that all persons have been created in the image of God and should be accorded human dignity. Therefore, hateful, unconcerned harassment of persons with a homosexual orientation should be repudiated. Respect for persons with a homosexual orientation involves honest, reasoned nonviolent sharing of facts concerning the immorality and liability of homosexual behavior. Christian churches should reach out in love and truth to minister to people touched by homosexuality.

As the Bible says in I Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV), "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God. Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

The Bible instructs followers of Christ to "speak the truth in love." God cares enough to warn us concerning the dangers of sin and tells us why we so desperately need a Savior to liberate us from our bondage to sinful behavior. Help is available at: exodus-international.org; or phone 1-888-264-0877.

Wayne Pickens, pastor

First Baptist Church

La Grande

Pride, patriotism not for me

To the Editor:

As of late there has been a lot of opinion of how and what people should say and think.

Having served not one but two tours in Vietnam I would like to give my opinion.

I often think that the boy who went over there is not the man who came back. That war did nothing to ensure freedom for anyone, not our nation or theirs.

I too could share experiences that were tragic and beyond thinkable. I have put that away. What I will share is that as long as there is the maiming and killing of infants, children and innocent people, pride and patriotism is not for me.

While our own are dying for the Bush agenda I feel no pride or patriotism.

Pride and patriotism can be so blinding that some can close their eyes and hearts to what is really happening.

Mass destruction is a term being used to manipulate. When will we learn from history and past mistakes? It has taken place in this country. Entire nations of Native Americans were brought to extinction.

Slavery of another race was the norm in this country for many years.

Pride. Patriotism. Not for me.

Roger Morin

La Grande

Put stop to this madness

To the Editor:

It has come to my attention that the Oregon Department of Transportation is once again spending money wastefully.

ODOT seems to think La Grande's Island City Strip needs dividers in the middle of the strip to keep motorists from making left-hand turns onto the roadway. The project is estimated to be $1.2 million.

Didn't we just spend a bunch of money on this strip for improvements? Why wasn't the project done then? ODOT has been studying Island Avenue for 10 years, and after repaving the strip 1 years ago, they have decided to tear it up again and redo what they think is right at the business owners' expense.

It is the businesses and the community that will lose in the end. All traffic will be directed toward 26th Street for the nearest turnaround eastbound and at Walton Road. Can you imagine campers and boaters that stop here with trailers trying to do a U-turn? What a hassle for them to stop in La Grande? In turn what does that do for our economy during tourist season? The business owners are in an uproar about losing their livelihoods — I would be too.

Some have been here for generations. We need to show our support and let our leaders know that La Grande does not want this!

ODOT has even decided to take the right-of-ways/driveways of some of the businesses, affecting ease of access to these businesses, all at the cost of property owners.

We need to band together and say enough is enough — no more wasting taxpayers' dollars at a time when we are asking teachers to give up their paychecks just so they can have a job! Please go to your local Island City Strip store and ask how you can help put a stop to this madness and sign that petition!

John Lannon

La Grande

Last word for letter writer

To the Editor:

Thank you, Jack Kelly, for defending my right of free speech in your April 7 letter. I agree with the statement, "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it." However, the activists in Portland, Seattle and elsewhere were not expressing free speech. When violence, property damage and injury to lawful authority occurs, then we are looking at something much more serious, like treason and sedition.

The Supreme Court has upheld the ban on cross burning, which was considered by some as free speech. I can accept peaceful demonstrations, even when I disagree — such as flag burning and stomping on our flag. But inciting to violence, treason and sedition, no.

I do not intend to engage in a letter-writing contest with Mr. Kelly. If he replies to this letter, I will not respond.

David R. Larson

La Grande

Canada should soft-pedal criticism

To the Editor:

Political Canada was critical of the United States' stand on Iraq. This has come even though the United States has been a reciprocal good friend, protector and economic benefactor to Canada.

The success of some of their industry at times is attributed to the degrading of our own as for instance lumber.

A lot of the disfavor can also be laid at the feet of our diplomats who range the world with the slogan "We are the only super power." This is like the school-yard bully who says "I dare you to knock the chip off my shoulder."

Once I had an assignment to Canadair and I was happy because I had two holidays. One was the Fourth of July, provided by my parent company, and the other was Jean Batiste Day, which is celebrated with much gusto in Montreal as a national holiday.

In the Canadair factory almost all paper work had to be written on one side of the page in French and on the other in English, and there was a silent undertow of jealousy, sometimes belligerent, between the French Canadians and the English Canadians. This undertow could also be felt on the streets of Montreal.

Today I feel this undertow possibly still exists as a festering sore and is partly to blame for the government cozening up to the French regarding the war with Iraq.

The Canadians might be well advised to soft-pedal their criticism of U.S. involvement in Iraq, lest their own festering sore become a boil needing the assistance of their friends in the south to extract the core and heal the sore.

After all Iraq can be of little benefit to Canada. It can only be a terrorism threat.

David Arnott


Americans blindly following leader

To the Editor:

Our country is being run by an egotistical maniac. He and his corrupt cohorts are squandering our national wealth while many of our people live in poverty and desperation brought on by unemployment, abuse, addiction and fewer options every day.

Our people are deceived into following him blindly. How I wish a superior power would come to liberate us. First they should drop leaflets to explain what's going on so we won't resist being liberated. They should bomb the headquarters of the rich and evil ruling party. Then they'll dust off their hands and sit back and ...

But what if our people don't surrender to this superior power? What if the bombs keep striking again and again, and our rulers stay put? What if they force our men to fight or be executed? What if the bombs hit our houses and shops and little children playing outdoors? Blood and broken glass wherever we go.

Surely the great liberator will tell our enslaved populace that it's all for a good cause while we are told to stay home and our kids are crying because they can't go to school or do anything fun or see their fathers ever again.

Our daughters will have no one to marry. Those with children will raise them in grief and hatred for that liberator who killed their fathers, until they are old enough to get revenge, yet so poorly armed and powerless that the only revenge they can take is to commit suicide in acts of terrorism against the liberator whom we have learned to hate so much more than our puny evil leader.

On second thought, maybe it's not such a good idea. We'll get rid of him some other way.

Mary Cooke


Thew saw team as family

To the Editor:

I've heard it said that life is like a rock tossed into a body of still water. For a while there is a splash and then the ring of water smoothes out, as though the splatter was never there. So what is the total sum of a man's existence?

Is it to be remembered or loved, or maybe both? Could it be what we accomplished or have conquered? Maybe it's quietly what we think about ourselves. Then again maybe it's all of these things and more. This much I do know, I will remember Richard Thew.

Many years ago, I had a loyal, dependable assistant coach. Richard's helping hand and friendship will always leave me very appreciative. I will continually hold dear the memories of our time together.

Two characteristics jumped out at me about the football coach. First it's his passion for the game of football. The time and energy he spent is beyond belief — 27 years of devotion. Secondly, the game itself was not his motivation alone, but the love for his players was.

Richard and I would use the word "family," that the football team was kinship. We didn't just say it was, we meant it. Coach Thew always has carried this message to his teams throughout the years. Remarks I always hear from his former players are that they had fun and that they miss the unity of the game.

I would like to take this time to wish Richard Thew much happiness and good will in his retirement, from a co-worker and friend.

Skip Pereira


Americans need to know

To the Editor:

Anyone who wants to know more behind the United States' pre-emptive war in Iraq and what is planned next should head to a computer and look up on the Internet "The Project for the New American Century."

The Project, to promote American global leadership, was founded in 1997 and includes among its membership Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others with close access to President Bush.

A war to defeat Iraq was first proposed by the Project to Israel in 1998 and it was rejected. The Clinton Administration was contacted next and dismissed it. President Bush had reasons to correct what many saw as a failure of his father to get rid of Saddam and with so many of the Project members within his administration, 9/11 became not the reason but the excuse to attack Iraq.

Hints that the motivations behind our invasion of Iraq were not the few being given by our president were being made by several national columnists weeks before the war. No news stories or TV news programs were made to explain the hints until the week before the war started when Ted Koppel of ABC's "Nightline" covered it. The information, he said, had been in a Scottish newspaper and one on the Continent and he was looking into it.

He interviewed William Krystol, chairman of the Project and editor of the magazine Weekly Standard, who agreed the information on the program was accurate and not a secret. Koppel ended the program by saying this can't be a conspiracy when everyone knows about it.

"Everyone" except the American public. Perhaps it, too, needs to know.

La Nita Anderson La Grande

Dissent still option in America

To the Editor:

I don't like war. I don't like the fact that our country is at war in Iraq.

But I didn't support Saddam Hussein, either.

It seems to me that many people think it is not possible to support our troops in Iraq and to protest the war at the same time. I ask, why is this so impossible?

Our administration did not adequately explain our reasons for being in Iraq. While the world faces other dire threats such as North Korea's nuclear program (possibly capable of striking the West Coast of North America) and/or the threat of Islamic fundamentalists gaining control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, why did we concentrate our energies on Iraq?

I'm not sure the evidence was very strong or clear about connections between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Are we there for oil?

Are we there for revenge? For empire-building purposes? To actually "free" the Iraqi people?

Too many things just don't add up for me, but my beef is clearly with our current administration, not with our troops.

Our troops, many of them just kids, are fighting a war. Whether or not I like this war, there isn't much I can do about it other than hope our troops carry out their work as quickly as possible.

This increases their chances of being safely home soon with less damage done. I pray for their safety, for strong decisions from their leaders in battle, and for the safety of civilians.

The sooner this war is completely over, the sooner our nation may be able to experience peace. I believe that a peaceful world is what most people really want.

The last time I looked, this was still the United States of America, and while wholehearted agreement may be nice, dissent is still an option.

John Evans Jr.

La Grande

Start supporting our troops

To the Editor:

I wish that the anti-war protesters could come to the realization of how they got their freedoms, and start showing their support for our troops.

The people who have protested the war should realize the only reason they have free speech is because of our countrymen who fought and died for those freedoms?

Wouldn't the protesters like it if other countries were able to have the same freedoms as the United States?

I am a strong supporter of the war and all of our troops who are risking their lives for us. If there is a chance that others could enjoy the freedoms that I do, then I am in full support of our president and military.

I gladly wear a pin stating, "Support Our Troops," and show it with pride. Our soldiers need to know that they have a country backing them.

Not only should they hear about all the Hollywood whining brats, saying no to war, but they should also hear about everyone who is in support of them.

There needs to be more show of support for our troops. For all the protesters, how would you feel if your loved ones were off fighting a war and you only heard from them once every two weeks, if you were lucky?

Imagine the pain that you would be going through constantly worrying about them, wondering if they are safe, if they have enough food to eat, where they are, and how much death they have already seen in their lives. I have to wonder.

It is not the soldiers' fault that they were chosen to fight in the war, but they are, and they are doing it for us.

Kelsey Dawn Schaures

La Grande

Handwriting not going away

To the Editor:

Will handwriting, something we were always taught in school, become a thing of the past, and will e-mail and computers take over? This seems the way to go, and the mail could be lost because the mailperson cannot read handwriting as we know it.

Will handwriting as we know it go by the way of the American Indian tribe in World War II that was the only one that could read and understand certain codes? No other Indian tribe, soldier, enemy or anyone else was able to read them. Only this one tribe. This helped win World War II.

Now as the years have gone by the younger American Indians in this tribe are not interested in them or learning them. Is handwriting going the same way?

The ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics are another example of writing. Experts have tried to decode these writing of thousands of years ago and have made little headway. They are still working to decipher them.

Then there are the wonderful people who can read your handwriting and tell what kind of a person you are, which I loved to have mine done when a teenager. There would be ads in some little magazine or newspaper that talked about this. How you crossed your T's or dotted the I's, etc., said a lot about you, or so you thought.

In the future you will surely need a handwritten signature for documents and such. You will still have to practice handwriting your name.

Fleta McCoy

La Grande

What goes on in our schools?

To the Editor:

In my travels throughout our schools I see teachers motivating students, tending to their needs and buying raffle tickets or Girl Scout cookies.

I see grounds crew and custodians maintaining buildings for safety and appearance. I see school secretaries handling phone calls, meal counts, student record and ice packs for kids' "owies" while coaching the school principal on the daily tempo of the school.

The library staff makes sure that everyone has access to resources for class assignments. Building administrators attend staff committees, parent coffees, site councils, administrative teams, all while attending to so many interruptions along the way.

The administrative office tracks data reports for all the required mandates, both funded and unfunded. Fiscal services ensure that voucher payments and billings are attended to while constantly perusing financial spreadsheets.

Superintendents are on the phone, preparing for the next tasks, orchestrating the functions of the district and finding time to respond to concerns and media requests. Bus drivers ensure that each youth is where they need to be and when they need to be there.

Instructional assistants work on classroom instruction and assist the rest of the teaching team in giving hugs, helping with "owies" and keeping communication flowing.

School counselors work on supportive lessons, student achievement and problem solving. Plant operations staff look after leaky roofs, heating and cooling problems and coordination of facilities with too many organizations to count.

Community volunteers sign in at the front desk to be reading buddies, Wildcat Eyes or mentors. Our schools light up at night for parent meetings, with various athletic and academic efforts for our community. I see a lot of staff cars in the parking lots early in the morning, late at night and on the weekends.

What do you see?

Jim Mollerstrom

La Grande