Bosnia rescue shows the value of training
The Marines who successfully rescued an American pilot shot down over Bosnia turned a potential disaster into a victory. It was a proud day for America and for all who served in the armed forces.
To see these young people toeing the line and obeying orders was refreshing. None said "This isn't right for me," or "I need to get my head in shape for this."
As members of the all-volunteer armed forces, they saw their duty and did it, no matter the risk.
I remember during the days of the draft, when the "Daddy-O" types went off to basic training with their leather jackets and long hair and returned months later to family and friends who sometimes failed to recognize them at the airport. The transformation was something to see.
Would that some of the young men today who pass their time standing on street corners could see the value of military training.
The service gives a lifelong gift by training one to cope with any situation. Last week the Marines proved that training put into practice actually works.
C. L. Norris
As a founding alumnus of the 14th Air Commando Wing in Vietnam, I am appalled that President Clinton, our commander-in-chief, would try to make political hay over the rescue of Air Force Capt. Scott O'Grady, the rescued pilot of the F-16 that was shot down over Bosnia.
Our multi-tasked organization included the 605th Air Commando Squadron, whose mission was to cover the "Jolly Green Giants" -- the Air Force RH-3 helicopters that went into Laos and North Vietnam to rescue downed Air Force and Navy pilots.
Many times we succeeded; at other times, we failed. But we lost a lot of very brave pilots whose sacrifices have never been honored.
I rejoice perhaps more than most Americans seeing Captain O'Grady safely back in American hands and applaud the Marine air crews that got him out.
Having been there, I admire his ability to use his survival and evasion training. Perhaps Captain O'Grady is a hero; I don't know.
But it makes me ashamed of the country for which I fought in three wars to see a president -- who refused to serve -- taking political advantage of Captain O'Grady's rescue to enhance his popularity rating. What has our country come to?
I see growing senior citizen influence reflected in the Baltimore County Council's decision to cut $4.4 million from the school budget in a county with an increasing student population.
It takes me back to New Jersey. In New Jersey's "senior belt" the senior influence is evidenced by continued defeats of school funding referendums, regardless of needs.
I fear Baltimore County is moving in the same direction. Has our aging population not yet seen their grandchildren's potential, which to be realized requires a quality education?
Have they forgotten what it means to have a teacher with time to meet their individual needs in a well maintained and well-supplied classroom?
Did they march?
Did any of the dittoheads and bubbas who scream about Second Amendment rights ever march for or even care about civil rights? Most likely not.
Gerald Ben Shargel
Recently, I was handed a cartoon which appeared on the editorial page Sunday, June 4. It depicts a graduate receiving her diploma and a congratulatory handshake from the dean.
Then she is handed what appears to be a balloon but is actually a thundercloud labeled "School Loan Debt" with a string attached to it. The poor student leaves cowering under the black cloud, which will most likely follow her throughout her early adult years.
In today's world, the undergraduate education is just a stepping stone. The graduate aims to embark upon yet another level of education, whether it be graduate school, medical school, law school, etc.
The problem comes when one realizes that all of these fine schools cost money, and a rather large sum of money at that.
Attendance at any of the Ivy League schools for four years, without financial assistance, is around $100,000, quite a sum for someone who has not yet found a job.
It is here that colleges offer students a way out of this dilemma, for a time. This device is called a school loan, and the colleges, in turn, are to prepare the student to enter the job market.
It seems that today's college graduate gets a job only to remit a large percentage of his earnings to a foundation he left 20 years ago.
Personally, I would rather graduate with money in my pocket than owing my school a sum of money estimated in the thousands. Four years pass by quickly, and college should be a pleasant memory, not a financial nightmare.
Many students are beginning to give state schools a second look. Granted, they lack the prestige of the Ivy League schools, yet, with the addition of honors programs, they offer the student a good education for one-fourth the cost.
When it is all said and done, all employers care about is what degree one has acquired and, most importantly, what skills one has to offer.
Before agonizing over what one has to offer a particular school, one ought to ask what that school has to offer him in the long run.
May the dead vote?
I have a question for your readers. Is it only dead Democratic voters who are allowed to vote?
My grandfather was a registered Republican. He died in 1965. Since the voter rolls in the city have not been purged recently, I would appreciate it if someone could tell me the procedure for resurrecting his voting franchise?
I realize he was at fault for not informing the election board in writing of his change of address.
However, since this seems of no consequence if you're a Democrat, I thought there might be a special address in the case of Republicans. A Department of Gone But Not Forgotten Voters, so to speak. Or is this just another dead issue?
Lawrence A. Temple
Once again, Rep. Kweisi Mfume has offered a detailed case for continued affirmative action in the form of government set-aside programs for black small business owners and quotas on government contract awards (news article, June 6).
Unfortunately, no amount of cost analysis and rationalization can justify programs like these when the fact is that it is fundamentally wrong to allocate society's resources based on the color of a person's skin.
Mr. Mfume offers statistics to support these programs. He states that programs to help minority small business owners return approximately $3 in tax revenue for every $2 spent.
Was this return unique to minority businesses, or is it the general result of investment in small business?
Before the Civil War, states profited handsomely from revenue generated by the production and export of cotton and other goods produced by slave labor, but this didn't justify the institution of slavery. Profit is not always the sign of a good program.
Mr. Mfume asserts that set-aside programs are only a small fraction of total government awards to small businesses. That's great when you view the program from the halls of Congress.
But ask the small business owner who submits the low bid on a state or federal project and loses the award because his or her skin happens to be the wrong color.
That "small fraction" of the total could mean the difference between success and failure for him or her.
Ask the person who is denied a federal job or promotion because yearly quotas haven't been met (the federal government has an extensive quota system for hiring and promotion). That's where the true impact is felt.
Instead of allocating society's resources according to color and gender, why not spend those resources in a relentless pursuit of equal opportunity for everyone?
Why not enforce zero tolerance for institutions that judge by gender and skin color instead of by individual skill, achievement and qualifications for the job? It is far more just to guarantee opportunity than to guarantee outcome.
Mr. Mfume was elected to represent all his constituents, including ones who don't benefit from a national "spoils" system. Unfortunately, he has ignored past letters of disagreement with his more outrageous statements.
I think it's clear that his primary concern is to use these issues to ascend the Democratic power structure and not to represent all of his constituents.