I woke up to see this subheading in the St. Petersburg Times on May 2, 2011: "U.S. forces track down and kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and then take control of his remains." My first reactions were shock, then sheer excitement.
Osama bin Laden was a merciless monster who thrived on taking lives as long as his was spared. His sick and twisted ideologies cost nearly 3,000 people their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, and for 10 years he evaded punishment. Bin Laden got what he deserved. He should burn in hell for eternity.
After hearing the news, country singer Brad Paisley tweeted, "If you see someone in a military uniform tomorrow, for heaven's sake give them a hug. Or a drink. Or a new car." He is right. Thank you just is not enough to tell them for risking their lives to protect our world from villains like this. But it's a start.
I am grateful to all those men and women in uniform. God bless all those who lost their lives during any conflict, and please protect those that continue to fight for peace.
I hope we are able to drive out hate with love one day, as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said. Until that day, though, good has conquered evil once again with force.
Pauline Murphy, Gainesville
Justice wasn't served
The killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. military forces, and the disposing of his body in the sea, did not serve the higher cause of justice, despite President Barack Obama's sanctimonious words.
America's act of killing bin Laden without capturing him, thus precluding an open trial, has caused the nation to lose a chance to demonstrate its sense of fairness and protection of individual democratic rights. The dumping of bin Laden's body at sea was a callous and cowardly act by our country, which only demonstrates our fear of a Middle East reaction.
The United States has a long history of allowing Middle East tyrants and dictators to be propped up by U.S. money. America's desire for control, domination, corporate oil and imperialistic ownership continues with this latest action.
Bin Laden's killing by America only adds fuel to the fire and jeopardizes America's safety and standing in the world.
Brian P. Moore, Spring Hill
Imagine if a Republican president had been responsible for the death of Osama bin Laden. Every Republican politician would be praising him fervently. Cries would be heard proclaiming him patriot of the decade or demanding that his face be enshrined on Mount Rushmore.
Alas, a Democratic president accomplishes the deed, and half of the Republicans give tepid praise while the other half never mentions him at all. This is politics in the 21st century. How sad.
Steve Harden, Holiday
Code name questions
Now American Indians are offended because Geronimo was used as a code name. But the name was used for the mission to capture and kill Osama bin Laden, not for the terrorist himself.
The media is also addressing the question of whether bin Laden was armed. What difference does it make? Bin Laden murdered 3,000 innocent, unarmed people. We should stop finding fault and thank the heroic men who successfully completed their mission.
Deborah Green, Sun City Center
I just sent $2,700 to the IRS and I don't want one penny of it to go to Pakistan's foreign aid. Does anyone really believe that Pakistan helped us in any way? They supported the devil with our foreign aid for five years.
Bob Wolfe, Sun City Center
Beating the odds
There are more than 6 billion people on the planet and 300 million of them live in the United States. That means that only 5 percent of the world lives here. Put another way, 19 out of every 20 human beings live somewhere else, most of them in China and Africa.
If you love this country, and think it's the best place in the world, you've beaten 20-1 odds just by waking up this morning. Add in family, job, health, etc., and you've beaten 25-1 odds. That's pretty amazing.
The events of Sunday in Pakistan simply ratify what we all should know. The skill, dedication and mind-set of this country and its people will never be compromised by those who reject freedom and all that comes with it.
The message is clear to the power-hungry, greedy and selfish: Don't mess with this country or you will pay. We are free because we fight for it and we will continue to do so as long as it takes to maintain ourselves as the greatest place to live on the planet. Even if we're just 5 percent of it.
Scott Stewart, St. Petersburg
Risks not increased
Congratulations to the Obama administration on a job well done in finding and killing Osama bin Laden. A few pundits seen to be concerned that al-Qaida will "retaliate." Before we worry about that we need to ask, "What are they going to do that they would have not done anyway, if they got the chance?" Killing bin Laden does not significantly increase our risk.
On a related issue, the Times said it but you did not say it loud and clear: Congratulations also to the intelligence services and Bush administration for their work in gaining the key information that cracked the case, the names and locations of bin Laden's couriers.
Charles Palmer, Lutz
Hail to the chief
Thank you, President Obama,
For your honor, discretion and will
In ignoring the morbid obsessions
Of those who rejoice in the kill.
No need to revert to Dark Ages
With public displays of the slain.
Giving in to such prurient interests
Would be vile, absurd and insane.
Most Americans are decent people
Who abhor this moronic request.
We don't need brutal, violent pictures
To put this dead madman to rest.
Please continue your high-ground position,
It fills us with national pride.
Our country is much greater for it —
Misguided dissenters aside.
Judith Lutzenberger, Sun City Center
Saving 10,000 homes
In 2009, the Collins Center for Public Policy, a statewide nonprofit committed to tackling some of our state's most complex problems, spearheaded a first-of-its-kind home foreclosure mediation program pilot project, allowing lenders to sit down with homeowners before foreclosure. The program was reviewed by the Supreme Court's Foreclosure Task Force and recommended for implementation in all of the state's circuit courts by the Florida Supreme Court in early 2010.
Since 2010, more than 10,000 settlements have occurred, many of which would not have been successful without the intervention of program managers like the Collins Center. Yet a recent article cast the mediation programs as falling short. A cynic might call 10,000 homes a drop in the bucket, but I assure you those 10,000 families wouldn't. Especially when the program operates at no cost to them or to taxpayers.
The impact of the thousands of homeowners able to stay in their homes, making regular payments, is beneficial to borrowers, lenders and neighborhoods. Like a penny, every home saved is a home earned. It avoids yet another drag on the real estate market and helps keep its communities economically vibrant.
Ned Pope, director, Florida's Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program
Keep the dogs running
I hope Derby Lane sticks to its statement that it will continue greyhound racing despite the bill that would allow tracks to end it.
I have been going there for years and love having dinner and drinks as I watch the races. It is more fun than the horse races, because there isn't a lot of down time as with the horses. The dogs are so beautiful and sleek. I especially love it when is rains and they come out with their little raincoats on. It is so exciting. Please consider all us dog lovers and keep the greyhounds running.
Jeanne Haupt, New Port Richey
Worthy of appreciation
This week is Teacher Appreciation Week. The governor and Legislature showed their appreciation by working against public education. It is hard to believe there is so much hatred directed at a profession that has brought Florida to No. 5 in education in the nation.
Parents and students, if you really want to show your appreciation for public education, write letters or e-mail your principals, school board, legislators and governor explaining why you appreciate the teachers who have made a difference in your lives.
Linda Gildemeister, Clearwater
Thanks to all who have given money and time for tornado relief in the South. However, where are the big-name stars of TV and sports who sent money and performed shows for Japan and other parts of the world? This county needs them.
Rich Prestera, Treasure Island
Thanks to Eckerd crew
Many thanks to the Eckerd College Rescue 4 boat and crew. Last week I was a passenger on a boat that experienced transmission trouble. We hailed some passing boats and asked if they could tow us to the nearest land base. We were about 2 miles south of the Pier. Of the three that stopped, one captain said he was low on fuel, another said he would follow us but took off after five minutes, and the third left with the first boat.
It was now dusk so we called Eckerd for assistance. Before they could get to us, the wind picked up to 20 or more mph, which slowed our progress and began blowing us toward a shallow rocky area. We threw the anchor and shortly afterward the Eckerd boat arrived. Because of the shallowness of the water, they had to anchor a couple of hundred feet away and a member of the crew entered the water and brought a tow line to us. After considerable time and effort, they towed us safely to land.
The Eckerd crew was efficient and professional. The contrast between their dedication and willingness to help and the boaters who couldn't be bothered was dramatic.
Don Delaney, St. Petersburg