Don't confuse flag with the country that...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Don't confuse flag with the country that it symbolizes

Why do veterans feel they have a lock on opinion regarding our flag ("The flag: symbol of freedom that we must protect," letters, April 19)?

While I have the utmost respect for what they have done, do not factory workers maimed by machinery or doctors who heal injured soldiers have a say also?

I have often heard of those who fought "to defend the flag," among them my father in Vietnam. Yet upon closer inspection, I believe one will find they were not defending the flag, but what it represents.

Take away the American flag and you still have America; take away our ideals, our Constitution and America disappears.

The American flag is a powerful symbol that we should respect; however a symbol should never be allowed to rise above what it represents.

Senators Paul Sarbanes and Barbara Mikulski should be congratulated for seeing what is truly important to the future of our country.

Roman Horoszewski, Catonsville

Could any flag satisfy everyone?

I have a suggestion for our new flag ("The flag: symbol of freedom that we must protect" ". . . or symbol of oppression whose time has passed?" April 19).

How about a plain neutral color banner with no decoration, no ornamentation, no stars, or stripes, that stands for nothing and offends no one.

Sadly, that is becoming the description of our country, as political correctness undermines both our inalienable rights and those for which we have fought for an won.

Perhaps we should run up the flag of surrender.

C. L. Norris, Baltimore

The letter ". . . or symbol of oppression whose time has passed" (April 19) requires a reply.

It would be difficult to change our flag, as it is stained red from the blood of those who fought and died for our freedom.

Would the author prefer a white flag? That is what we would have but for those who have gone before us.

Richard L. Griffin, Fenwick Island, Del.

The lesson of Vietnam: No-win battles hurt us all

The Sun's article "What we should have learned from the Vietnam experience" (April 16) brought back memories for me. As a veteran who served in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968, I witnessed first-hand what happens when our country is involved in a no-win conflict.

It was apparent to most vets soon after their arrival in Vietnam that our tour of duty was not for an honorable cause, but was just about one year of survival.

Our leaders under-estimated the tenacity of the North Vietnamese to unite the country under communist rule, no matter how long it would take.

Col. Bruce B.G. Clarke is correct that the North Vietnamese had clear goals and political objectives and the will to carry them forward. It is truly sad that so many lives were lost before our leaders realized there was "no light at the end of the tunnel."

I agree with Mr. Clarke that "we must have clear, unwavering military and political objectives that are in consonance before a conflict begins."

To those who gave the supreme sacrifice in Vietnam, may God bless them. And may we never forget the lesson of Vietnam.

Keith F. Kelley, Lutherville

It's time to forgive the president's failings

The recent letter "Rule of law demands that President Clinton be fully prosecuted" (April 19) argued that President Clinton lied and lied and should be prosecuted by Kenneth Starr's successor as special counsel, Robert Ray.

Most of the president's legal problems arose from the relentless pursuit of possible improprieties by the independent counsel and almost all of the investigations led nowhere. Finally, the president was caught literally with his pants down.

The Congress, wisely, recognized the political implications of the independent counsel law and its potential for abuse, and failed to renew it.

Thus if he is prosecuted by Mr. Ray, Mr. Clinton would be further punished under the rule of a law which has been allowed to expire.

I believe justice and fairness call for the president to be forgiven his misconduct and his attempts to conceal it and be recognized for his many positive contributions to our nation.

Nelson Goodman, Shady Side

Pope John Paul II's apology was sincere and substantive

Having been involved in Jewish-Catholic dialogue for more than a quarter-century, I can empathize with Evan Balkan's continuing "suspicion" of the Catholic Church's repentance of its past sinful deeds toward Jews and Judaism ("Pope's empty apology," letter, April 8).

Still, I would suggest that his rhetoric overtakes even the most cynical reading of the church's profound change of heart during and since the Second Vatican Council of 1965.

In the light of this history, the papal prayer to God for forgiveness, made first in Rome and then placed in the Western Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem can hardly be called either "sudden" or "empty."

Responding to the pope's 1994 call for an historic examination of the Christian conscience concerning anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism, Bishops' conferences in Hungary, Germany, Poland, the United States, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Italy, and most recently Lithuania have issued painfully specific admissions of guilt and repentance.

The Holy See itself undertook such an examination and included a summary of its results in a statement it issued on Ash Wednesday.

There is thus a great deal of specificity on the public record that Catholics understand to be included in the pope's universal and hence general liturgical prayer.

Eugene J. Fisher, Washington

The writer is associate director of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

A 'Children's Garden' that really bears fruit

I appreciated The Sun's article on Baltimore's Waldorf School ("Garden cultivates children amid jungle of education," April 9).

I have two daughters who attend the school. Its "Children's Garden" and elementary school have a unique approach to learning in this speeded-up, technological age.

While the article was very accurate regarding the Children's Garden, I was disturbed to read a common misconception regarding Waldorf's curriculum.

Formal reading and writing instruction do indeed begin in Waldorf first grade.

It was my privilege to observe this process with my daughter. I cherish the lesson books she created at age 6 with their fanciful stories and illustrations.

Kenny Klompus, Baltimore

Adviser teaches students the meaning of leadership

The Sun's article "Government association at Holabird honored" (April 18) did not name one very important person -- Brett Smith.

Mr. Smith is the Student Government Association adviser at Holabird Middle School and is responsible for our earning the Felix Simon Award.

He has dedicated many hours of his weekends and evenings to our student government and shown the students involved the true meaning of leadership.

Stephen Szymanik, Baltimore

The writer is president of Holabird Middle School's Student Government Association.

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