Patriots of today should honor patriots of 1776
The document known as the Declaration of Independence is one of the most prolific documents ever conceived by mankind.
The patriots of 1776 through the Declaration of Independence established a basic principle of government and proclaimed to the world that the 13 American colonies were to be free.
In honor of the patriots of 1776, let us work to eradicate hate from our great land.
Let us work to become the best in whatever endeavors we choose.
Let us accept all Americans as equals -- as true brothers and sisters.
Finally, let us honor the memory of the patriots of 1776 by instilling in our young people a love of country and nation.
Let us all work to see to it that future generations of Americans will keep alive the spark of liberty and freedom so dear to the patriots of 1776.
The patriots of 1776 gave us a nation. Let us all continue in their honor to work to perpetuate this nation forever, intact and united in its belief in a democratic system.
This is our obligation to future generations of Americans.
John A. Micklos
The writer is a retired history teacher and chairman emeritus of the state War Memorial Commission.
Fourth of July not corny symbolism
I'll give Sun movie critic Ann Hornaday the benefit of a doubt that she was carried away by her own "hyperbolic violence" and "overblown sanctimony" in her review of Mel Gibson's latest potboiler ("Freedom from logic defeats 'The Patriot'").
But, did she seriously mean it when she described it as "but in overblown sanctimony and sentimentalism as corny as the Fourth of July"?
What have I missed about the symbolism of the Fourth of July that she seems to be privy to?
George C. Creel
Electrical engineering was never at UMBC
On June 21, The Sun ran an intriguing article by Mike Bowler in the Education Beat column ("A no-prisoners policy in academia turf wars").
As a member of the Maryland Higher Education Commission, intricately involved in academic program approvals and the recent efforts to resolve objections to proposed programs from Baltimore area institutions, I am compelled to react to Mr. Bowler's position and the information provided.
First, let me assert that Mr. Bowler appropriately brings to public attention an issue of significant importance in efforts to ensure higher education opportunities to Maryland citizens.
In addition, he does a excellent job providing some history of the development of institutions in the Baltimore area, raising awareness of the state's obligations for equal educational opportunity under federal law, and highlighting some examples of successful collaborations between historically white and historically black institutions.
One specific misstatement must be corrected. Mr. Bowler states, "But in the early 1980s, the state, to promote diversity at Morgan, culled the popular electrical engineering program at UMBC and moved it across town." This did not occur.
In fact, because of the commission's serious attention to the effects of program duplication, an undergraduate electrical engineering program has never been approved for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, but was implemented at Morgan State University as one of several unique program offerings intended to enhance that institution.
The commission takes great care in ensuring that Maryland maintains a system of institutions with distinct missions, affording citizens an array of education opportunities.
Additionally, the commission staff members thoroughly analyze programs against criteria for determining "unreasonable program duplication" as it applies to all institutions of higher education and "unnecessary program duplication" that would violate federal and state obligations to enhance our historically black institutions and to continue our efforts to eradicate vestiges of a prior system of segregation in higher education.
Opportunities for collaboration are encouraged as means of achieving multiple objectives. The commission will continue to be vigilant in the development of a plan that complies with the mandates of the federal Office for Civil Rights and simultaneously addresses the needs of Maryland.
Such a plan will be intended to avoid future "battles for programs" in higher education.
John J. Oliver
Local land trusts protect urban parcels
Elizabeth Garland Wilmerding's article, "Land trusts let us protect our future" (June 25), provided an excellent summary of the functions and virtues of conservation easements.
In addition to the state programs highlighted by Ms. Wilmerding, readers may be interested in knowing that there is a network of local land trusts active in many parts of Maryland. A quick way for potential donors and others to find out more about local land trusts is through the Maryland Environmental Trust's new Web site, www.dnr.state.md.us/met (click on "Local Land Trusts").
While most land trusts focus on the preservation of large agricultural, forest or waterfront properties, there are a few land trusts in Maryland, including the Mount Washington Preservation Trust, working to protect much smaller, but similarly important, parcels of land located in urban settings.
Preserving green space in urban areas is crucial to maintaining viable, healthy, strong neighborhoods. With a proven (seven easements covering 14 acres), donor-friendly process, we have found that urban property owners can, like their ex-urban counterparts, "do well by doing right."
Our donors have obtained significant tax deductions while precluding development of some incredibly beautiful land in Baltimore City.
The writer is president of the Mount Washington Preservation Trust.
Birth mother secrecy harmful to health
Here's another side to Howard Altstein's off-base argument ("Disclosure may hurt adoptions," June 23).
Mr. Altstein writes about the "solemn promises of anonymity" given to birth mothers at the time they surrender their infants for adoption.
I was one of those birth mothers. In 1966, I surrendered my first-born daughter for adoption. At no time was I promised anonymity.
Rather, the shoe was on the other foot. I was forbidden by the judge to have any further contact with my child. I was told to, in effect, get lost, go away, disappear and forget it ever happened or they wouldn't let the adoption I so desperately needed for my child go through.
I pray that one day these all-knowing academicians will figure out that, if it's psychologically unhealthy for rape and incest survivors to bury their secrets, secrecy (no matter what name they give it or how they rationalize it) is ultimately harmful to birth mothers, too.
It's only since I've come out of the closet and been reunited with my adult daughter that I have found health and wholeness.
Ann H. Hughes