This letter is for all those who appreciate the Fourth of July for the wonderful holiday that it is. It is a celebration of our freedom, and this is in praise of those citizens who respect the real meaning of the word. Kudos to those who take "freedom" seriously by:
+ Being good neighbors.
+ Obeying traffic laws.
+ Aiding the police.
+ Not stealing others' possessions.
+ Not abusing power.
+ Doing their duty to loved ones and others.
+ Not taking another's life.
+ Not selling illegal drugs.
+ Being kind to others, especially children.
+ And by generally respecting the rights of others as they expect others to respect their rights.
Respecting freedom, which is a very important aspect to being able to be free always, is seldom mentioned, but it is just as important as freedom itself. Without respect, freedom can be lost because it is respect for freedom that keeps it alive for all of us.
Sarah T. McAfoose, Port Richey
Paying tribute to our troops
Re: What the Fourth is really about, June 30.
I can only hope that this article was read by every Times subscriber and not just those who check the movie listing page. I think it should be reprinted in a more visible location to help bring much needed awareness to the state of our nation and its current mind-set. This war is not over.
On this Fourth of July wave your flags higher, and say those prayers louder for our troops who are giving their all. Let them know that we haven't forgotten them.
My son, Staff Sgt. Michael B. Quinn, Tank Commander, E Troop 3ACR, was killed in Fallujah, Iraq, on May 27, the result of a traffic checkpoint ambush in the middle of the night.
As I crawl into my comfortable bed at night, in my air-conditioned home, secure in my freedom, I can't help but think of those facing another night of sleeping on the ground, in a tent, on a tank, in a hot, dusty, noisy, hostile country. If they were lucky they had enough water to drink and maybe more than two MREs to carry them through the day, while being expected to carry out their duties in temperatures over 100 degrees dressed in full uniform, and enduring stress levels we can't imagine while not knowing who your enemy is.
I think of re-reading the sandy letters written by my son who maybe received the mail and packages I sent to him. The letters I received from him all arrived after I learned that he had been killed.
Yes, my loss is painful and personal, but what my son has lost is far greater: his hopes, dreams, goals, accomplishments, seeing his 9-year-old son grow up, enjoying freedom that we all take for granted. What our country has lost with each death is becoming lost in the numbers, now over 200.
My heart aches for the family of Sgt. Thomas F. Broomhead, whose family lives in Fort Myers, who was killed in the same incident. My heart aches for the crew members left behind who have picked up the pieces and have carried on. They still have a job to do.
My heart aches for Staff Sgt. Hollie Jones, Tank Commander, who was with my son when he died, who accompanied his body home and who brought his ashes to the funeral. Will he be safe on his return to duty in Iraq? After all, the president has declared that the major combat is over.
Dedicated, brave, willing to die. I want to pay tribute to all of our armed forces both near and far from home, serving their country and president in conditions and locations we wouldn't tolerate for a minute _ and they go willingly. I especially want to pay tribute to the memory of the countless armed forces members who over the years have given the greatest possession they had, their lives, for our enduring freedom. A moment of silence is a start. They deserve our everlasting, undying gratitude.
Sally Taylor, Inglis
Free nation still has work to do
The Fourth of July is a day that represents our independence as a nation. Our freedom as a people would not have been possible without the revolutionary actions of 1776. And today, our independence rooted in civil freedoms is our unifying bond. Our national economy is second to none in the world.
But we Americans have matters that demand attention. We must deal with a corrupt cabal of corporate entities that have too much influence in Congress and the executive branch of our government. We need a stronger level of commitment for better health care that will cover all Americans. We need more help for the homeless and working-class Americans. We need more heart and brotherhood across America. And we must be especially careful that no criteria of practical expediency, under the guise of national security, would infringe upon citizens' rights. Hopefully, the will and honesty of decent Americans will push corruption out and pull integrity in.
Robert B. Fleming, St. Petersburg
On a dangerous path
When my 6-year-old son asks me why the sheriffs and the police don't enforce the laws regarding the recreational use of fireworks again this year, I'll be able to respond that it is for the same reason that the president, the governor and the Legislature do not fulfill their sworn oaths to the federal and state constitutions. As my son shudders from the continual, celebratory blasts at all hours during the next few weeks, I will take small comfort in the knowledge that our law enforcement personnel and public officials have the "freedom" to choose from among the laws and rights of our great nation those they wish to enforce and uphold.
The freedom for which Americans of each generation have fought and died is not the freedom to do exactly as one chooses. As citizens of this unique nation, we are guaranteed freedom from abuse by government, freedom from the arbitrary enforcement of laws and freedom from lawlessness in the streets. There is no constitutional guarantee to use bottle-rockets, grant tax cuts or protect sugar company profit margins.
As a nation, a state and a county, we are on a dangerous path when elected officials and sworn officers of the law are "free" to act in direct contradiction to the express will of the people. This "freedom" to ignore the bedrock conviction that this is a government of, by and for the people must not continue. If that occurs, there will be precious little freedom left to celebrate.
Andrew C. Hill, Riverview
Going overboard with protection
Re: Pinellas County's ban on fireworks sales and Truck packed with fireworks explodes, July 3.
I sure am glad that the county leaders have made my life safer by banning the sale of fireworks. Though it seems they did not go far enough. After the tragedy in Johnson State Park near Bonita Springs on July 2, it would seem that "professional" displays should also be banned.
Every year we read about someone getting injured or killed while planning, manning or watching the sky come alive on July Fourth. After four workers were killed on July 2, how many more must die before we realize just how dangerous these things are? After that, they can outlaw automobiles, swimming pools and my own bathtub. Just think how many lives would be saved. It would be a glorious day.
Living life is dangerous, but you can't live a bubble. Stop making laws to protect me from me.
William F. Heyen, St. Petersburg
A thank you to firefighters
I'm sure you can imagine my fright when I opened the paper on June 22 to find that the condominium complex where my grandmother lives, Town Apartments, had had a serious fire. I was relieved several minutes later to speak to her on the phone and learn her building was not involved.
On July 3 I read Out of the ashes, about how the Lealman firefighters went back in to assist the residents in rescuing some of their cherished possessions.
Prior to 9/11, I'm sure the average citizen knew firefighting was a tough job but rarely gave much thought to it unless their lives were directly touched by fire-related tragedy. Directly after 9/11, and for some considerable time thereafter, it was brought home to every American with great clarity just what kind of person it takes to be a firefighter. It is not just the willingness to do a job that few would attempt. What touches me now is the huge charitable spirit described in your article. The firefighters were denied their "right" to do their job properly by circumstances outside of their control, so they went back to do whatever they could. They did it willingly though exhaustedly, again putting their lives on the line, to bring some peace and joy to a group of frightened and demoralized elderly people.
So I am writing to say thank you to those firefighters and firefighters everywhere, for the fact that you keep coming to work every day not knowing what's in store. Thanks to your parents and families who raised a person who would end up being brave enough to do a job others would dismiss as too difficult. Thanks to your spouses and significant others and to your children, who recognize the great value in what you do and support you as you do it. And mostly, thank you for being the men and women that you are, quietly confident of what is right and what is not. Thank you from someone who is thankful she didn't need you this time but knows you'll be there when I do.
Elizabeth Freeman, Tampa
A tale of human goodness
Re: Out of the ashes.
I can barely see through the tears to type. Thank you to Kelley Benham for the beautiful story of the Lealman firefighters who worked so tirelessly to save the fire victims' most treasured memories and possessions. This story said a lot about the basic goodness in human nature.
Elaine Coffin, South Pasadena
We need more like Katharine Hepburn
Re: Katharine Hepburn: 1907-2003, June 30.
What a beautiful tribute to one of America's famous movie stars! We thank you for the fine spread about a lady who, before her time, was a successful business woman, a graceful woman who proved "ladies can wear slacks," a person who loved deeply, a person who was friendly with her neighbors and, again, a lady who proved you can make a success of your life by being decent, friendly and doing everything to the best of your ability. We need more people like this.
Again, thanks _ you made my day. I'm tired of war and politics; this was a pleasant breather. I'm sorry Katharine passed away, but I guess they needed her "upstairs."
Dorothy B. Noblitt, St. Petersburg
A marvelous talent
My idol died the other day. The woman I have looked up to for 60-plus years and who, unknowing, influenced much of my life is gone. Katharine Hepburn epitomized everything that gave strength, independence and individuality to women without sacrificing femininity or sexual appeal.
I first became aware of the great Hepburn as a high school drama student in 1943 when I played the part she had originated on Broadway in our presentation of Stage Door. From that time I was "hooked" on legitimate theater and idolized Hepburn on stage and screen.
She may be gone now, but she'll never be "off" as long as her films endure and bring joy to those who appreciate this marvelous talent.
Pat Guidry, Spring Hill
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