Fourth of July
Remember the real meaning of this day
For many, this July Fourth will be a time of cheap retail sales events, backyard barbecues or perhaps even some fun fireworks. Many will enjoy the festivities, but I fear the day will pass like any other holiday for average Americans — consumed by apathy in their search for entertainment. But it is not too late. The spirit of this great nation is beginning to remember what the Fourth of July was really all about: that free men took their divine right to revolt against tyranny and declared independence in defiance of those who felt it was their divine right to rule.
We should all pause this Fourth of July to pull out copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution written in the years that followed, and take time to read them out loud to ourselves and especially to our children. We should read with great pride our Bill of Rights and remember that the power to govern comes from "we the people," and that we lend our powers to the government. We should remember that a well-educated and informed public is critical to retaining our freedom and sovereignty. A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.
Paul DaRocha, Spring Hill
On this holiday weekend, I would like to encourage everyone to celebrate safely. The fire service has a long history of dealing with the results of unsafe celebrations. As a result, fireworks have become a major concern for our industry. We have pushed for legislation that would help ensure public safety only to have it undermined through amendments and loopholes to nonrelated agricultural bills.
The political avenue aside, the real responsibility falls on each of us as members of our community. We have a choice to celebrate safely. We have the freedom to enjoy a professional fireworks display in celebration of our independence. We do not have the right to endanger others through our use of illegal fireworks or dangerous celebrations.
Every year, we hear and read about serious injuries and deaths related to fireworks. Will you risk that possibility? Please do not use our emergency service this Fourth of July. Enjoy the professional displays in your area. Celebrate a happy and safe Fourth of July.
James D. Large, fire chief, St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue, St. Petersburg
An American tradition | June 28, letter
Try some consideration
The letter writer is surprised at the number of people demonizing fireworks. Well, maybe these people wouldn't do this if the fireworks fans used some consideration.
Last weekend, someone had quite a celebration, and we were still a week away from the holiday! This weekend will be pure hell because it will go on for days.
The letter writer must not have pets that are scared to death of the noise and bright lights. I have dogs, cats, horses and birds that are all scared of them. I can keep all but the horses in the house. So I have to stay at the barn for the whole time fireworks are going off.
I find fireworks trash in the woods on my property for days after. Who do you think cleans all that up?
So, for the letter writer's information, if fireworks were used on the holiday and for a reasonable number of hours, maybe they wouldn't be so demonized.
Gladys Newton, Hudson
Using private fireworks hurts animals June 28, letter
It's about responsibility
It's a shame to see the true sentiment of being an American lost in today's citizenry. Where the letter writer seems to mock the "personal freedom" of those electing to celebrate with fireworks, she fails to understand what true personal freedom is and the personal responsibility it entails.
The letter writer mentions that 45 percent of individuals injured by fireworks were under 14 years of age. One must be 18 to purchase fireworks in Florida. So where are the parents? Should it not be their responsibility to know what their children are doing? I understand that it's much easier, however, to want to infringe upon the freedom of those who can use fireworks responsibly.
If anyone truly wishes to help prevent injury this holiday, help educate those around you. Reiterate the dangers of fireworks use and the means for their safe operation. That way, when someone chooses to enjoy fireworks, they will know how to do so safely.
Sadly, those who oppose fireworks use aren't looking to prevent injury. They simply want to use the fear of harming animals, children, or oneself as a vehicle for imposing their personal ideals on those around them. It seems the letter writer, like all of us, should truly rethink what personal responsibility is and what it truly means to be an American this Fourth of July.
Tom Nagy, Clearwater
Army report points finger at Franks July 2, editorial
Franks deserves better
It sure is easy to have hindsight, isn't it? Gen. George Patton once said he didn't want the guy with the best plan, he wanted the guy who would pick up his rifle and take the hill, or something to that effect.
It is sad to see that on the cusp of victory, when all is finally starting to turn around in Iraq that some paper-pusher in the Pentagon has to come out with a "study" on failure.
Gen. Tommy Franks is a great man who led our troops in battle and met success. He does not deserve finger-pointing. It was Franks who led an army half the size of Desert Storm all the way through Baghdad like a knife through butter in the quickest, most efficient battle that ever took place in the history of the modern world.
Remember this: When American war heroes get bashed in the press for political reasons during a time of war there will be a commensurate response at the voting booth. Leave Tommy alone!
Timothy A. Shackton, Clearwater
Pat Oliphant cartoon | July 2
Plight of the elderly
Leave it to the dean of political sketchers to accurately portray the plight of our deserving elders in their painful plight of being caught up in rampant spiraling inflation of basic goods and services. Fixed incomes do not allow for being ill in today's society for seniors much less allow for food and medicine. Very sad, but also very true!
Austin R. Curry, executive director, Elder Care Advocacy of Florida, Tampa