Re: Boots will stand for war's fallen | story, May 25
Have compassion for all war victims
I could not believe the ire from Largo resident Curtis Holmes when he asked, "What do (Iraqi civilians) have to do with our Memorial Day? That's my only question."
How do you show honor to our lost veterans, but have no compassion for the ones they had to kill? The men and women who fight this war (for our freedom) have hearts and don't take the killing of civilians lightly. They do it because it's their job, not their pleasure. The war may be political, but our servicemen's job is anything but political.
Since I started sending care packages to our soldiers in November 2006, I have received many thank-you notes, as well as notes just to keep in touch, so I know of what I speak. A nephew by marriage is over there, and he's made many friends to whom we (our church members) send packages. We are not supporting the war, just showing our support for our troops.
One base commander wrote to thank me for the goodies and said some days the helicopter pilots are out for eight hours flying over the battlefield and there is no place to eat, so the snacks we send are sometimes all they get until they get back to their station. He said sometimes they even drop treats to the Iraqi children in the friendlier villages.
My nephew said one day he was in a friendly place with lots of children and he had four chocolate bars in his pack, and he took them out and the kids' eyes lit up. He said they had to share, and they broke the bars into many pieces, smiling all the while, just waiting for that one bite.
He said when on base and handing out homemade cookies to the soldiers, they will sit down and have five minutes of relaxation while they dream of home and their mom's own cookies. So no matter what we send, it all gets distributed among the men and women who are fighting for America.
I, for one, am happy that in the Memorial Day display in Largo Central Park, they put out the shoes representing the deaths of Iraqi civilians, in addition to putting out boots representing our soldiers' deaths.
No war is one-sided.
Fran Glaros-Sharp, Clearwater
Re: Respect our dead, not the enemy's | letter, May 28
Lost, honorable lives are valued
It is true that some of the dead of Iraq and Afghanistan were our enemies, but they weren't enemies before "shock and awe" and all that has followed because of the right-wing warmongers with whom our ignorance twice saddled us. A man who dies defending his country from an unprovoked invasion and occupation by foreigners is, by definition, morally superior to the invaders. So are the many innocent children and other noncombatants liquidated in our horrific six-year disaster.
I value the honorable lives we have uselessly thrown away in a dishonorable cause — more, apparently, than do the Cheney/Bush crowd. There weren't enough of us lefties to change the game, but happily, our ranks are growing.
Bud Tritschler, Clearwater
Re: Hotel's rebirth to be arduous | column, May 25
Meeting was not
a criminal trial
In responding to Diane Steinle's overall excellent summary of the Belleair town meeting on the Belleview Biltmore Hotel development plan last Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, I did want to comment on her observations about the "quasi-judicial" nature of the hearing and the handling of the meeting by Mayor Gary Katica and City Attorney David Ottinger.
It is important to realize that the nature of the meeting, and its legal character, were covered well in advance of the meeting. The notices posted and distributed covered those points, and the mayor and attorney did cover that aspect of the meeting at the beginning.
True, they could have banged the gavel more at times, but the attorneys and "experts" for the opposing side — the Belleair County Club and Fred Thomas — seemed to be given ample time to cover all their points and questions. Objections or questions of "witnesses" were enforced.
What did upset me and most of the nearly 200 attendees was that the two attorneys handled their questions of the witnesses more like a criminal trial, not a quasi-judicial hearing. People who were simply doing their jobs were hammered by these two high-priced lawyers.
Frankly, I was embarrassed for the country club. I can't imagine good guys like James MacArthur wanting these guys to be acting like cross-examiners on television's CSI or Law and Order.
In summary, things did end well. The country club and developer Legg Mason did agree on the annex building height. If my calculations are right, the 23 rooms given up by the hotel because of the adjustment will cost them about $2.5-million in annual revenue. That means the state loses about $175,000 annually, and the town about $50,000. For a poor country boy like me, that's a lot of compromise.
Bill Hutton, Belleair
Commissioners got the job done
The residents of the town of Belleair owe our commissioners a thank-you for sorting through a complicated application for numerous variances requested by Legg Mason in preparation to restoring the Belleview Biltmore Hotel. The commissioners were able to ignore the propaganda and make an informed decision.
A special thanks to Commissioner Stephanie Oddo, who, after 71/2 hours of grueling testimony and cross examination, adroitly asked the attorney representing the Belleair Country Club and Legg Mason if they could agree on a height for the proposed annex. In short order, both sides agreed to compromise and the variances were granted.
It's unfortunate that both parties could not sit down before the dog and pony show at the commission meeting and come to this agreement. We all could have avoided sleep deprivation. Thanks, commissioners, for a job well done.
Lil Cromer, Belleair