The meaning of service
This is in response to Dana Visalli’s comments, “The Cost of Violence.” I am a retired U.S. Air Force veteran and proudly served my country for 20-plus years. I agree with Mr. Visalli that war is violent and too often innocents become the victims. I agree with his abhorrence for violence.
However, I do object to his comment that when people thank veterans for their service it means “Thank you for going to a far-off land to kill people we know nothing about.” There are many ways in which men and women in uniform serve our country that has nothing to do with killing.
Military members have responded to emergencies saving lives. Sometimes at the cost of their own. Military training infuses one with an instinct to come to the aid of others whether in they are in uniform, or not. Military personnel assist when natural disasters strike. They are also “serving.” Military service is a “family” commitment. When we’re away on assignment our families are also “serving,” and their lot is oftentimes far more difficult than ours. So, when it is suggested that “thank you for your service” means just going to a far-off land to kill people it demonstrates a profound ignorance about what it means to wear the uniform. Among other things because of the service of men and women in uniform our First Amendment rights are secure, and we are free to voice our opinions in this newspaper.
I sometimes wear a baseball cap emblazoned with the U. S. Air Force emblem. Several people, often complete strangers, have approached me and said, “thank you for your service.” It makes me feel proud and more than a little humble.
Our granddaughter will soon be deployed to the Middle East. She is part of the Air Force Reserve Security Forces and will be tasked with protecting others in uniform at her own considerable risk. When she returns, God willing, My wife and I will say welcome home, we love you and, “Thank you for your service.”
William Massengill, Winthrop
It isn’t ostriches who hide their heads in the sand when danger threatens. Ostriches are far too smart, and far too tough, for that old myth to have any truth to it.
No, it is only humans who are dumb enough to think that hiding their heads in the sand is the way to face danger. That’s what the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) proved last week.
FEMA is the agency charged with preparing for and responding to natural disasters, among other things. These include floods, hurricanes, fires and the like. Until a week ago, FEMA seemed to understand that global climate change was already occurring and that natural disasters were increasing as a consequence. Its long-term strategic plan stated: “Scientific evidence indicates that the climate is changing and significant economic, social, and environmental consequences can be expected as a result. A changing climate is already resulting in quantifiable changes to the risks communities face, showing that future risks are not the same as those faced in the past.” This view is shared by almost all atmospheric scientists in the United States and around the world.
Last week, FEMA showed us that the current administration’s response to this obvious threat is to make believe it doesn’t exist. The new FEMA strategic plan for government response to disaster simply takes out all references to climate change and its current and likely future effects.
So, whose head is buried in the sand now? As Andrew Dessler, professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University, said about FEMA’s total blindness to reality: “This is the literal definition of insanity.”
Randy Brook, Twisp
The Winthrop Westernization Committee deserves our abiding gratitude for volunteerism in the face of many obstacles while seeking to serve the community. Hiking in the California Sierras last summer we came across a young Scottish Highlander bedecked in his kilt. When he learned we were from Winthrop, he told us how amazed he was by our Western town and that it was his favorite of all he had visited as he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. He came to Winthrop because of hiking. He remembered it because of Westernization.
In an effort to become a better-informed citizen I braved the Susie Stephens Trail this afternoon to get a sense of the place at issue in the proposed Westernization ordinance amendment in the W3-B3 zone. Post-holing towards town along the trail, my view was of a striking open western landscape full of beauty and outdoor opportunity. The architectural structures are far less important to the view and do not seem integral to the Westernization theme.
Some Winthrop citizens have been called children and naïve as they push to modify the Westernization regulations. Our own children were sometimes right when they pushed with purpose against our rules. This usually meant that we had fallen behind in our assessment of the situation, and that their request was appropriate to the time. Solar energy is appropriate to this time. It is time for Westernization to include solar options for Winthrop in the W3-B3 zone.
Betsy Weiss, David Clement, Winthrop
Years ago, I was lucky enough to visit Greece. As I stood in the hilltop ruins of temples I had studied in school, across the landscape below I saw hundreds of buildings, each with a water-heating tank and solar panel on the roof. Rather than detracting from the ancient surroundings, these installations struck me as inspiring examples of a living, breathing culture – one that honors its past and wisely uses its resources today.
We, too, can strike this balance in Winthrop. If we were to adhere too strongly to our historical western theme, we might consider keeping out the most jarring of modernities: cars. Of course that would be foolish and impractical. But let us embrace solar panels right here in town, and let visitors see these symbols of the new West, in a place where we take pride in our past and harness our glorious sunlight to power our lives while caring for our natural world.
We heartily support the proposed amendment to Winthrop’s Westernization Ordinance.
Joyce Bergen, Larry Lund, Winthrop