Letters to the Editor

The grand old flag shows who we are

The grand old flag shows who we are Today is Flag Day, believed to have originated on June 14, 1885, by B.J. Cigrand, a schoolteacher at the Fredonia (Wis.) Public School, District 6. The American flag is truly a symbol of our patriotism to our country.

In addition to our flag, "The American's Creed" helps to define what we stand for and who we are in this complicated world. Many of us will remember reading this when we were in elementary school. Now, more than ever, it should be reread, as well as read by all immigrants of all faiths, especially of the Islamic faith. We are neither infidels nor are we hate-mongers. We are Americans! We do not believe that illegal immigrants should be admitted to our shores, and all immigrants should learn English and speak it. This is what we ask.

The American's Creed: "I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people, whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed, a democracy in a republic; a sovereign nation of many sovereign states; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

"I therefore believe it is my duty to my country love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag and to defend it against all enemies."

"The American's Creed" was written by William Tyler Page, clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, in 1917. It was accepted by the House on behalf of the American people on April 3, 1918.

Jack Keller Sr., World War II combat veteran, lifetime charter member, World War II Memorial Society, Belleair Bluffs

A day for donations, too

This is Flag Day, and many Americans will proudly display the Stars and Stripes to demonstrate patriotism and love of country.

Today is also World Blood Donor Day. In November, health care will be one the top issues for voters in the presidential election. The American people have always been problem-solvers, and they can help fix a small part of health care with about 30 minutes of their time.

America needs more donors of whole blood, apheresis and cord blood, as well as bone marrow and organ/tissue donors. These donors can share their good health, enhance and save lives and rock the world one patient at a time. The world already acknowledges the United States as a military and economic superpower. Let us show the world our true colors as the leader in donation.

Bob Wise, Tampa

Get the facts, and get guns off the streets June 11, editorial

Extremist rhetoric is not the way to justice

That another young life was lost to a police shooting in St. Petersburg's black community is a terrible tragedy, and it demands a thorough investigation. Yet I applaud this editorial encouraging people to keep level heads and refrain from militant rhetoric.

In particular, I concur entirely with the editorial board that the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement merely exacerbates tensions with wild accusations and inflammatory protests. The fact that Javon Dawson was shot twice in the back does raise doubts about the veracity of the Police Department's account of the facts, however it is essential to the cause of justice to wait until all the facts are in before rushing to judgment concerning anyone's culpability.

The kind of unbalanced hyperbole indulged in by radicals like Omali Yeshitela and his band of fanatics only serves to inflame hatreds and open wounds. There is nothing constructive in it. History shows that extremism in the name of "social justice" rarely ever achieves this end, it only frustrates it.

John Feeney, Tampa

Javon Dawson

Outside investigator needed

Regardless of the circumstances, the death of 17-year-old Javon Dawson, shot by a St. Petersburg police officer, is tragic. This young man had his whole life in front of him. Now it's gone, all because he made a bad decision to bring a gun to a party.

The investigation into his death needs to be thorough and, if possible, done by an outside agency. Residents have a right to demand justice. If this was my son, I too would have questions if I found out my son had been shot in the back.

The only way to legitimately answer these questions is to have an independent investigation. I don't think the police can investigate themselves and retain credibility with the black community.

Paul Lee, Tierra Verde

Celebratory shooting

A deadly practice

Indiscriminate shooting in the air kills. Where do these people think the bullets will come down? In Phoenix, shots were fired in the air on a holiday, and one came down and killed a young girl in her backyard.

In Florida it is illegal for anyone under 21 to have a gun. What was a 17-year-old doing with a gun?

His shooting had nothing to do with color. He was careless and had disregard for others when he shot in the air. Anyone who carries a gun, regardless of their color, and brandishes it risks the chance of being shot by the police or a stranger.

Gene Kannee, Sun City Center

Raise responsible children

It's tragic that another black child has died as a result of a shooting, regardless of the fact it was a police officer who pulled the trigger in apparent self-defense.

I say "child" because that is what a 17-year-old is. Reports indicate his 14-year-old brother was also present when the shooting took place at about 10:45 p.m. Think about that: a 14-year-old out at a party at 10:45 p.m. My son, who is the same age, isn't allowed out after dark, and we live in Seminole.

Maybe the Uhurus should spend more of their energy and time in assisting the "parents" in their community on how to actually be parents. Javon was only a sophomore and his brother is obviously not a high schooler; why were they even at a party for graduates?

It's time for the law-abiding black residents of St. Petersburg to take back their streets from their own brethren who have created a standard of living that we all must deal with. Start snitching, and maybe your children will grow up to become responsible adults. A good portion of the rest of society has accomplished this. Why can't the black community do it?

Alan Bieling, Seminole

Despite crowd, no one talking | June 12, story

Time to move on

Enough newsprint has been wasted on the Javon Dawson story. It's time to move on to more substantive stories. A 17-year-old boy should not have taken a gun to a high school graduation ceremony, should not have fired shots in the air, and he certainly should not have pointed a gun at a police officer.

And the "conspiracy" theory from the Uhurus saying that Dawson's death was connected to plans for a new Rays waterfront stadium is idiotic and not even worth reporting!

Bob Lindskog, Palm Harbor

Pandering to blacks | June 7, letter

Community has many faces

The letter writer asked for a response. I'd like to give it a try:

A good newspaper is not about me or about you. It is about us — a community made up of individuals. A good newspaper reports news — much of it bad, some of it good, some of no apparent interest to anyone we know. But a good newspaper not only reports current local, state, national and international news, it also reports on situations that reflect on the status of our community. Sometimes these read like feature articles, with more human interest (read "story") aspects to make them more interesting for readers. Many of these articles contain much information between the lines — beyond the actual printed words — that has the potential of educating us about the good and the bad aspects of people and situations in our community.

A newspaper also has to sell. Therefore, the front page will occasionally have an article that may not seem appropriate as front-page news but is intended to capture the attention of persons who might otherwise not consider buying/reading the newspaper.

I am quite sure that putting together a newspaper the size and scope of the St. Petersburg Times on a daily basis is no easy task, and occasionally choices of what news goes where seem a bit skewed. But I'd say that overall the Times keeps us informed, it educates and keeps us interested. The evidence is in the public forum of letters you and others write to the newspaper.

Also consider that our community extends beyond our immediate neighborhood — beyond Safety Harbor, beyond Tampa Bay. Without my going into the philosophical and ethical concepts of the articles you mentioned, does this answer your question?

Sandra Ream, St. Petersburg

Pandering to blacks | June 7, letter

Not interested in blacks

Thank you for finally printing a letter regarding the Times' constant coverage of blacks. The letter writer clearly stated the views of everyone I know who subscribes to the Times.

Day after day, page after page is devoted to this race, either in print or in photographs. Your photographers must be instructed to submit only pictures that include blacks when they cover any community event. You would think we were living in Africa.

It is not only ridiculous but comes nowhere near reflecting reality and obviously is a blatant attempt to make your readers believe that it does. Believe me, we do know better. Perhaps the majority of your subscribers are blacks who enjoy this coverage?

I am not black and I don't read these stories because I have no interest in them. More and more I am having to go elsewhere for news, and I resent the fact that space in my newspaper that could be used to bring me real news of the world is devoted to such pap. I doubt if I, too, will continue to be a subscriber much longer because of this issue.

Sandra Tracey, Tarpon Springs

Pandering to blacks | June 7, letter

Accurate assessment

The letter writer could not have said it better. It's often a topic of conversation in some circles. The letter is just not opinion because it's measurable and verifiable. Add your recent goofy changes and you ruined an acceptable paper. Roses, however, to the sportswriters.

P.L. Frank, Belleair

Pandering to blacks | June 7, letter

In their place?

This letter writer asks if he should be more "understanding" of the times? The time is the 21st century!

It appears that his litany is more about the number of stories and where they appear in the paper than the "blacks" they are about. Or am I wrong?

Would he be as angry if these "black" stories were in the back of the paper?

Back of the bus — back of the paper. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Lola Diaz, Palm Harbor

Pandering to blacks | June 7, letter

Coverage out of balance

We could not agree more. The number of pages used for these stories was ridiculous. We have canceled our subscription for the summer. Hopefully, by fall you'll have a more balanced news policy reflecting your readership!

Nanci Gaenslen, St. Pete Beach

Pandering to blacks | June 7, letter

Diversity is desired

Who thinks this way? I debated the merits of matching cited news articles with other news articles, but felt that would be pandering to a low standard, so I didn't. Instead, I reflected on the fact that I, like other readers of this paper, want the diversity in reporting that we get every day through our paper. Each of the articles cited by the letter writer offered positive messages in an increasingly negative world. Thank you for the balance in coverage.

Just a final thought: Boy, he must be crazy mad at the real possibility of a black president.

Maida Laird, Palm Harbor

Confederate flag

Critics display disrespect

Last Saturday's Times contained several letters about the huge Confederate flag soon to be a part of our landscape. Most spoke of such things as tolerance, respect and our public image. They also showed lack of respect to those who held a viewpoint different from theirs, using such terms as "bigots," "sore losers," "racists," "indecency," etc.

Funny, I wasn't taught that love and respect for our American flag meant that we should use such terms to identify others who wanted to show respect for a part of their heritage, even if their ideas were in contrast to my own. Nor was I taught that such a person was less of a patriotic American than I.

Roy Peter Clark even wants to start the ball rolling to erect a huge American flag adjacent to the Confederate flag on public land. (Why public land, by the way?) I would have had more respect for him and this project if he had originated the idea long ago, rather than now, when he is coming in second.

Larry Fox, Largo

Show real patriotism

The retro Rebs, heritage-not-haters, who want to display the Confederate flag everywhere should march on down to the local Marine Corps recruiting office. Instead of refighting a war that ended 143 years ago, let them prove their patriotism by fighting for their country, the United States of America.

John Van Gieson, Tallahassee

It's not their flag

The Confederate battle flag isn't Marion Lambert's to abuse. The flag rightfully belongs to the people of that nation, and especially its war dead. The Confederacy was conquered by the United States in 1865, and so far as I know, no one now living had a hand in creating the CSA or fighting its war.

Its flag belongs in museums and on the graves of its soldiers and sailors who perished in the war. Nothing riles me more than seeing the flag on trucks or used to make headline clowns look better than they are. There is nothing Marion Lambert or the Sons of Confederate Veterans can do to add one iota of honor to the people who fought for the CSA. Those people earned their honor already. Robert E. Lee's record speaks for itself.

I have five Confederate ancestors; two of them were killed in action and one was permanently crippled. I wish these publicity hams would find a beneficial project to do and leave the CSA alone.

James B. Johnson, Port Richey

Flags and free speech

Why are so many people concerned about flying the Confederate flag? After all the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that desecrating and burning the American flag was a form of free speech. Flying the Confederate flag seems to fit that same logic: a form of free speech.

Dayle Stevens, Largo

Think of the children | June 9, letter

Parents should supervise

In response to an advertisement containing the word "sex," the concerned letter writer asks: "Do we need to filter the newspaper along with the television to make sure that our kids aren't exposed to things they aren't quite ready for?"

Absolutely, yes! It is not the job of the newspaper editor to be concerned about what age group might be reading the news on any particular day. It is the responsibility of the parent to supervise and educate their children about what they watch or read. Sex is a current event. If an ad stating "Bring Sex Back" is too racy for their child, then perhaps it is not appropriate for that child to be reading the newspaper.

Mich Sullivan, St. Petersburg

The grand old flag shows who we are 06/13/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 19, 2008 6:06pm]

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