The Baltimore Sun

Preserve a piece of Civil War history

The Sun's editorial describing the tenuous status of the President Street station and urging immediate action to ensure its survival was on the mark ("Save the station," Dec. 29).

The loss of this significant landmark of our nation's Civil War - where, as The Sun notes, the first fatalities of the conflict occurred - would deprive all Americans of the opportunity to visualize and appreciate firsthand the momentous events that took place in Baltimore on April 19, 1861.

The Friends of President Street Station have been little short of heroic in their efforts to preserve the building and ensure that the clash that day between Baltimoreans and Northern troops passing through our city to Washington has been presented in proper context. The Maryland Historical Society tried valiantly, but unsuccessfully, to continue the mission.

Now, as commercial development threatens to swallow completely this icon of Maryland's Civil War history, public funds are urgently needed to ensure future generations can appreciate the historical forces that swirled around this small 19th-century train station that day in April 147 years ago.

The charge to save the President Street station falls not only to historians and preservationists but to us all.

Let there be no doubt that creative thinking by city officials, perhaps working with their federal counterparts, can marshal the resources needed to save the station.

We must not allow its destruction, especially on the eve of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

Charles W. Mitchell


The writer is the author of "Maryland Voices of the Civil War" and a member of the publications committee of the Maryland Historical Society.

Make Maryland next to end executions

It was a pleasure to see the column "Global shift against death penalty" (Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 1), which makes the point that countries around the world are turning against capital punishment, recognizing that there is no rational reason to continue to kill citizens allegedly guilty of heinous crimes.

I hope all our Maryland legislators read the column and vote this session to repeal our retrograde death penalty.

One matter of concern, however, was the writer's call for a moratorium on executions.

While this is noble, no amount of reflection is going to persuade many well-meaning people to come up with a fair death penalty.

Let's just abolish the death penalty.

New Jersey was the first state to do so, Maryland would be the second, and eventually perhaps the whole world will ban capital punishment.

Max Obuszewski


Impound the cars of drunken drivers

The death of Officer Courtney G. Brooks is a clear call for a revision of the procedures regarding drunken-driving arrests and processing ("Officer killed," Jan. 2).

Kerri King, the alleged hit-and-run driver, had been arrested for drunken driving as well as driving with an expired license in September.

If her car had been impounded immediately upon her arrest, Officer Brooks might still be alive today.

Too many drunken drivers don't care that they are driving impaired.

The death of others is often the result of their carelessness.

However, a drunken driver without a car is not a threat - and few people would be willing to lend their vehicles to friends known to drink excessively.

J. A. White


Murder marches on as leaders get raises

The numbers do look bleak for a city mired in murder when presented against a backdrop of a continually revolving door for city police chiefs and mayors who, from 1990 to 2006, have failed to deliver any consistent or lasting success in halting Baltimore's plague of homicides ("Searching for answers," Dec. 30).

But what is even more disconcerting is that some of the same city figureheads have rewarded themselves with one pay raise after another, from one mayoral administration to the next.

Why are city leaders running to the bank with bigger paychecks while continuing to deliver a stubbornly high per capita murder rate that leaves Baltimore one of the deadliest cities in America?

Mark A. Kukucka


Border boundaries merit real respect

The author of the letter "Crossing a border shouldn't be a crime" (Dec. 29) paints a nice fairy tale image.

Too bad his willingness to "welcome all peaceful and honest people to be my neighbors, regardless of where they were born or what imaginary lines they crossed to get here" falls short of reality.

A lovely world it would be, indeed, if we could all join hands and live in harmony as one big happy global family.

But what of the line-crossers who are less than peaceful or honest? Which neighborhood does the author suggest they go live in?

It seems to me that the truly honest immigrants are the ones who are willing to abide by established procedures to become American citizens, not the ones who just sneak in without regard for what borders represent.

Even if you can't see or touch the borderlines, they are far from "imaginary," and they do warrant respect.

Courtney McGee


Uninsured ignored by the power elites

A single-payer, universal health care system will never work in the United States.

We hear this mantra repeated daily by politicians on both sides of the aisle, and they're all absolutely right. There is no way that such a system could be devised without cutting into the profits of health insurance companies.

Health insurers give generously to political campaigns, so everybody in power is beholden to them.

So, the status quo remains unchallenged among our lawmakers, who alone could help the millions who can't afford health insurance.

The Washington power elite seems to be unable to see the actual people who suffer from untreated ill health.

They're too poor to make significant donations to anyone's election campaign.

Thad Paulhamus


Generic drugs can act differently

While it may be true, as Kathleen Jaeger of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association claims, that there are differences between the testing methods of the Food and Drug Administration and Consumer Lab, and while it may also be true that many generic drugs are medically equivalent to name-brand versions ("Generic drugs equally effective," letters, Dec. 25), neither of these claims is relevant to the problems with generic Wellbutrin described by Naomi Wax ("The generic drug myth," Opinion

Commentary, Dec 20).

All it takes is firsthand experience with a close family member, as I have had, to know for certain that generic and name-brand anti-depressants do not always affect the body in the same way, sometimes with disastrous results.

Nanette C. Tamer

Ellicott City

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