Editor's note: The letter writer's son, Army Cpl. Frank R. Gross, was killed by an IED in Afghanistan in 2011.
I approached the 20 or so soldiers in my path on my way to the commanding general's office at the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Ga. Pointing to the tiny Gold Star pin on my lapel near my heart, I asked each of the soldiers if they knew what it represented. Seventeen stated that they had no idea; two identified it as the Purple Heart; only one of the 20 correctly identified it as the Gold Star lapel button. He also explained the significance of the button.
My mission that day at Fort Benning was to hand-deliver a DVD to Maj. Gen. Robert B. Brown. The 45-second-long disc was about the Gold Star lapel button and those who wear it. My hope was that it might be shown to all soldiers entering basic combat training.
Again, while waiting for my connecting flight home to Tampa from Dallas-Fort Worth, I spotted at least 100 soldiers ready to board a flight. I asked a dozen of them if they knew what the tiny Gold Star button upon my heart meant. Again there was that unknowing look.
As Americans, we remember and honor our fallen soldiers. Recently, several soldiers from the Tampa Bay area have made the supreme sacrifice: Staff Sgt. Ricardo Seija, Spc. Clarence Williams III and, last month, Staff Sgt. Matt Sitton. We proudly celebrate Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
Few Americans, however, think about "Gold Star families" — also known as the families of the fallen — the loved ones left behind when a soldier dies in combat theater or in a unique circumstance stateside. When the somber faces of the grieving parents appear on the front page of the newspaper shortly after the death of their hero, we are all reminded of their valor and sacrifice, yet we remember them briefly.
Even fewer know that the last Sunday in September is designated as "Gold Star Mothers' Day." Additionally, last year the current administration amended it to include "Gold Star Families' Day."
Sadly, there were no ceremonies recognizing and honoring Gold Star families, their loved ones and their sacrifice in the Tampa Bay area. A Google search revealed no answers as to why; I intend on seeing that change next year, locally.
According to Carol Pryor, St. Augustine Survivor Outreach Services coordinator, the Tampa Bay area is home to the highest concentration of Gold Star families in Florida.
It appears that we have been forgotten as there was not one mention in either of the Tampa Bay area newspapers that Sunday, Sept. 30, was Gold Star Families' and Gold Star Mothers' Day.
Next time you see that tiny Gold Star lapel pin, please feel free to honor and acknowledge these special families by saying, "We are forever grateful for the sacrifice that your son or daughter made in their service to the United States."
Please do not forget us.
Toni Gross, Oldsmar
Romney on style; Obama on facts Oct. 4, editorial
It's a knockout
A CNN poll showed that 67 percent of viewers thought Mitt Romney won the debate. MSNBC's Chris Matthews thought Romney won. Time magazine's Joe Klein said Obama "got his butt kicked." Andrew Sullivan called it a "disaster" for President Barack Obama.
But the Tampa Bay Times concluded that there was no clear winner. There were two clear losers: Obama and the credibility of the Times.
Jeff Beattie, North Redington Beach
Less time, better results
Despite the fact that nearly all media pundits agreed that Republican nominee Mitt Romney handily won Wednesday night's presidential debate, the Times in its opinion section touted that President Barack Obama won on facts while Romney exhibited only style.
I'm not sure which debate the Times was watching, but it certainly wasn't the one that I and millions of others watched. While speaking four minutes less than the president, Romney covered more ground on the economy and cutting the federal deficit than did Obama, who issued the same hackneyed hope and change rhetoric that has become his trademark.
With two more debates pending, Obama had best sharpen his discussion of the issues; otherwise, Romney will have gained the momentum that he has so desperately sought since winning the Republican nomination.
Earl A. Myers Jr., Tampa
Obama was terrible
You stated that President Barack Obama "offered the more pragmatic, thoughtful approach to addressing the nation's most pressing problems." To what debate are you referring? Obama performed so miserably in Denver that Jeff Greenfield of PBS declared it "Obama's Debate Debacle."
Anne Morgan, Palmetto
President aloof and snippy
President Barack Obama was aloof, snippy and distracted. He offered no specifics on anything. In fact, in his only chance to defend Obamacare, he stumbled.
To read words like thoughtful, pragmatic and professional in your editorial made it sound like it was written before the debate took place.
Martin Peters, Brandon
President Barack Obama was an embarrassment in the debate Wednesday night. He proved himself to be incompetent without the use of his best friend, the teleprompter. Mitt Romney stated the truth about Obama's track record and the president could not stand to face the truth.
Tim Dorn, Tampa
Breaking down the debate Oct. 4
He didn't go for the jugular
Adam Smith did an excellent job of breaking down the debate. I kept saying to the TV, "Look up, Mr. President; look at Mitt Romney smiling while you're shaking your head."
President Barack Obama came across as dull while Romney was animated. I wanted the president to throw up his arms and say, "Oh, come on now" on Romney's statements on health care.
The president did not go for the jugular. He mentioned jobs going overseas but not Bain Capital.
Holly Edmonds, New Port Richey
Romney presses Obama on record | Oct. 4
Romney's missed chance
Mitt Romney's biggest blunder (and there were few) in the debate was allowing President Barack Obama to continue hyping the bogus narrative that our economic downturn would be exacerbated by a return to "the failed policies of the past."
Romney should have challenged Obama to name the policies. Was it the tax policy that Obama has kept intact? Was it the financial regulatory policy that the president alluded to when he presented the target-rich observation that handing out mortgages like Halloween candy proved disastrous?
Romney should have wrapped that around his neck as part and parcel of the liberal quest for "fairness" and asked how much of the rest of their agenda is setting us up for another fall when the folly of trying to legislate outcomes is pursued instead of just trying to assure opportunity.
Dwayne Keith, Valrico
Remember his policies
Mitt Romney may have won the debate, but there are facts we should all remember:
He intends to "save" Medicare by dismantling it and substituting a voucher system that will certainly benefit private insurance companies rather than older people.
He has talked about ending Roe vs. Wade and funding for Planned Parenthood.
He has stated that a large number of Americans are too lazy and accepting of dependence on government programs to be worthy of his concern (the 47% debacle).
He has criticized citizens for not paying taxes while hiding his personal income in safe havens to avoid taxes.
And finally, he continues to suscribe to a plan that will cut taxes less on the rich than on the rest of us.
Martha Hodge, Tampa