A bitter pill | Jan. 14
Ending wars is not easy
"Bittersweet" is a gentle way to describe emotions after seeing the flag of the army you fought once again flying over the land that your friends died fighting in.
I served in Vietnam, in military region one near the Laos border and the DMZ, from July 1970 through July 1971. I know that sick feeling. I saw the flag of the Republic of North Vietnam flying over Saigon back in 1975, as the last helicopter left the embassy roof.
The buildup in Vietnam began in 1965. By 1968 the Battle of Khe Sanh had raged for four months.
In March 1971 I was operating out of the reopened Vandergrift Firebase that was overrun during the Marines' fight to keep Khe Sanh during the 1968 Tet offensive.
The veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who know the history of the Vietnam War should not be surprised that all wars come to an end, and not always the way many veterans would have liked to see. Presidents Bush and Obama, like Johnson and Nixon before them, had different views on what was worth losing American lives for. Dan O'Shea asks, "If the president doesn't believe the mission will ultimately be successful, should the men, and women he sends to achieve his national security objectives be willing to die for them?" The answer is yes!
Then again, O'Shea and I know we risk our lives for those fighting beside us not for the politics that caused the war.
The harsh reality that we face in America is that it's so easy for a president to start a war, but very hard for the next president to get us out of a war.
Janice Josephine Carney, Tampa
The leadership revival | Jan. 15
David Brooks' prescription for leadership revival is profoundly Burkean, as described in Yuval Levin's new book about the Right-Left divide: The Great Debate. There's something going on here.
Brooks counsels a deep respect for mentors, tradition and "feeling an awareness" of your community. He doesn't dwell on esoteric theory.
If I were to construct my revival for sensible reform based on awareness, I would start with three principled essays: Victor David Hanson's The Idol of Equality, Henry Olsen's Conservatism for the People, and Yuval Levin's persuasive language and ideas in Beyond the Welfare State.
Brooks' objective of "finding the things that inspire you" are all around us. Leaders need only revive and articulate them.
Gary Harrington, St. Petersburg
Unemployment benefits | Jan. 9
More homeless kids
As health and education professionals, we are appalled at the lack of sensitivity that was displayed by the Senate in refusing to extend unemployment benefits during this extended period of high unemployment.
As teachers in the Plant City area and also east Hillsborough County, we encounter children who are homeless. As a result of what the Senate has decided, the number of children who are homeless will increase exponentially.
Recent quotes regarding the number of people who will be affected is not static. It is estimated that approximately 72,000 people per week will lose their benefits.
As Americans, we are left to ask, where is the mercy and concern for all of the unfortunate in this country?
Anna & Stephen Feldman, Valrico
Mayor's office salaries | Jan. 15
Not a good start
Let us hope that the City Council holds our new mayor's feet to the fire on his request for more than $1 million annually in new salaries and positions.
Robbing capital funding for operating expenses and relying on one-shot gimmicks such as the sale of a building site are precisely the tactics that led to New York's budget crisis in 1975.
We are talking about $4 million over the course of the mayor's four years in office, not merely one year. That money could be put to much better use other places.
Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg
Primary election | Jan. 15
Voters don't care
The majority of the people eligible to vote in the Republican District 13 primary election to replace Bill Young have expressed their opinion: They don't care who represents them.
About 73 percent were a no-show, didn't bother to vote.
Congratulations to the 73 percent! You are a part of the biggest problem facing our country: indifference.
Dave Loeffert, Dunedin
Illustration | Jan. 12
Kudos to the artist
For once, I'm compelled to write to the Times about something other than a political or social issue. I'm a creative director these days, but once upon a time, I was a professional illustrator, my work gracing the covers and pages of periodicals regionally and nationally. I'm fairly critical of many of today's artists who seem to rely more on digital resources than actual artistic skill to produce images.
Not so for Cameron Cottrill, evidently. His illustration accompanying the Amy Harmon "Seeds of Fear" article rocked me out of my chair. It looks like vector art (I'm guessing Adobe Illustrator), but it has the sublimely drawn, strongly composed and deft palette composition suggestive of many masters of the craft. The illustration has a hand-drawn feel to it, which is difficult to achieve in a digital medium. It's a striking visual. Darn fine work, done no doubt, under considerable deadline pressure.
Jim Kenefick, St. Petersburg