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May we be thankful always for soldiers' sacrifices

Merci beaucoup to you for sharing the beautiful story "6 Decades Later, French Say 'Merci': From World War II, Pittsburgh's Band of Brothers" (Nov. 8) by Torsten Ove and Brian O'Neill. Well told and inspiring! The writing reminded me of the elegant prose of Stephen Ambrose's powerful book "Citizen Soldiers."

They tell the story of ordinary young men who by their devotion to the cause of freedom risked everything to stand against tyranny. But it is these veterans' humility that always brings tears to my eyes. On this Veterans Day I give thanks to them, to those who served before them and to those who follow in their footsteps.

I'm thankful that my own son, Matt, recently and safely finished a tour in Iraq as an infantry captain. My greatest pride was when I learned that he and his unit had successfully trained a large number of Iraqi soldiers who subsequently ensured that the people of that fledgling democracy were able to vote freely and in large numbers. At that moment I saw more clearly than ever before that our men and women were sacrificing for something of enormous value. And to me, that is the tradition of our armed services: courage, idealism and humility.

On Veterans Day let us each pause in our own faith traditions to thank God for their sacrifices, and pray as well that we always remain worthy of them.


Hopes and dreams

We must remember the true meaning of Veterans Day. These days, Veterans Day takes on a whole new meaning to me, as a combat veteran of the Iraq war.

A high school friend of mine, Sgt. Thomas E. Vandling, paid the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq on Jan. 1, 2007. He was loved dearly, especially by his family and by his friends. This Veterans Day I will take the journey to see him at his final resting place. I will remember not only the fallen but also the wounded warriors of past and present wars.

I'm proud to be an American, and lately these days it's hard to keep focused on those beautiful colors, the red, white and blue, due to the sometimes cruel world we live in. But this Veterans Day, help me and others remember the dreams and the hopes that made the men and women of our armed forces of past, present and the future -- those hopes and dreams that carried us to distant lands to fight for this great country's freedoms and also distant lands' freedoms, so that one day we can be at peace.


Fantastic photos

I want to thank the Post-Gazette for publishing the wonderful photos of Pittsburgh by Darrell Sapp. They always give me a pleasant feeling. His choice of subjects and composition are wonderful. And thanks, too, to the editors and technical printing personnel who make the photos look so good when printed on newsprint.


Give it a rest

Recently you gave space to a resurgence of efforts to attack basic teachings and discipline in the Catholic Church. Maureen Dowd's Oct. 26 column ("The Nuns' Story") was followed by two letters on Oct. 30 (by Pat Downey and Scott Fabean).

The various issues re-presented there have been addressed appropriately by the church over the past few decades. The sex-abuse scandal continues to be mentioned, without reference to actions that have been taken to correct and heal it, and without acknowledgment that probable contributing factors were the aberrant views of some "liberal" theologians and psychologists. Perhaps it's time to give it a rest.

Instead of rehashing old arguments, I might offer a few emotional, right-brained impressions. Unfortunately, one image strongly suggested by recent rhetoric is that of petulant, foot-stomping brats demanding their way, oblivious to the damage and confusion they have been causing.

An alternate image is the reappearance, at Halloween, of a few aging witches and warlocks, as arrogant and power-hungry as before.

On a serious note, however, the recent assaults present a challenge to Catholics trying to live their faith. The challenge is not as dissidents intend, but comes on reflecting on the Lord's command to love one another and to be sincere in the prayer the Lord gave us: " ... Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. ...

Mt. Lebanon

Vehicle control

Regarding the Nov. 4 letter "Red-Light Cameras Spur Rear-End Accidents" by Gary Walentoski of Baytown, Texas:

I don't know what the motor vehicle code is in Texas, but here in Pennsylvania the law requires you to have your vehicle under control at all times. Now, that means if you are not "paying close attention" and have a rear-end collision with a vehicle in front of you, you are at fault! If you hit the car in front of you that is stopped/stopping at a yellow light, barring some kind of mechanical problem, you were either driving too fast, following too closely, not paying attention or some combination of the three.

You can't blame the other driver, who did obey the law and stop when the light turned yellow. I know that "driving lore" has it that green means go, red means stop and yellow means "go like hell," but the law says you have to slow down or stop on a yellow light.

You can't blame the red-light cameras, which are designed to make driving safer and easier by helping to ensure that intersections are not blocked/gridlocked (a Pittsburgh traffic hallmark) and pedestrians are not endangered by uncaring, inattentive, dangerous drivers.

Yes, I agree that the $75 (or more) fine per vehicle per incident might be attractive to the various local governments, but how the money is used can be controlled by statewide legislation so that the fines do not turn into a way to fill the local coffers.


Americans cannot sustain their health insurance at these prices

I have a couple of comments for the members of the "Pittsburgh tea party" group who were quoted in the article " 'Pittsburgh Tea Party' in D.C." (Nov. 6). My husband is self-employed, works 60-plus-hour weeks, and I work part-time. We pay more than $16,000 per year to Highmark for health insurance. This is not sustainable and is outrageous.

Bobbie Gick thinks the system shouldn't be "upset" because of a "few" people who can't afford insurance or can and don't buy it. Try paying that type of premium yearly for a few years and see how that works for you, Ms. Gick.

There are literally millions of American families in the same situation as ours. By the way, it is necessary for my husband to be self-employed as his industry laid off most full-time workers years ago because of health-care costs!

If we don't have more affordable options, soon our family may join the ranks of the uninsured. We work hard and pay property and income taxes. We deserve to have affordable health care, as do all Americans.


Selfish stance

I was surprised that Dale McCoy, who makes claim to being a Democrat and a union member, would have so little compassion for the citizens of our great country who can't afford health care (" 'Pittsburgh Tea Party' in D.C.," Nov. 6). "These God-fearing, decent, family people," as he refers to the tea party protesters, would be more God-fearing if they weren't so selfish and would have everyone included in national health care.

All of us are concerned about the national debt, but the way to bring it down is to stop invading other countries and bring our finest young people back from harm's way. God bless America.


Free from apathy

My hat is off to Dale McCoy and the other members of the Pittsburgh tea party. On many days I have awoken and wondered "where has my country gone?"

Even though I disagree with the protesters' stance on almost every issue (I am for health-care reform and for a carbon tax), reading about their efforts to take time to travel to Washington and speak their minds on important issues has led me to a new realization: "My country is still here."

As long as there are those in this country who do not let the burdens of daily life lead to apathy, we can all enjoy the freedoms that our forefathers intended. Thank you and keep up the good work.


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We welcome your letters. Please include your name, address and phone number, and send to Letters to the Editor, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222. E-mail letters to letters@post-gazette.com or fax to 412-263-2014. Letters should be 250 words or less, original and exclusive to the Post-Gazette. All letters are subject to editing for length, clarity and accuracy and will be verified before being published.


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