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Memorial Day Hopes and Memories

June 02, 2004

The date was May 6, 1945. The place: the notorious sub-camp of Mauthausen concentration camp, Ebensee, in Austria. About 20,000 concentration camp inmates awaiting their death -- among them many nationalities and few remaining Jewish inmates. The tunnels where the inmates worked were dynamited. Around 2 p.m. on that memorable Sunday, as I stood at the gate of the camp, my eye registered an unbelievable sight: a tank moving up toward the camp's gate. Some distance behind it, I saw another tank.

The gate opened and a figure in an olive brown uniform emerged from the tank. As hollow-cheeked figures emerged from the gate and they swept the American GI off his feet, kissing his hands and touching his uniform to make sure the man was real, I saw a white star on the tank. At that moment I became a free man. Let this be my tribute to that generation of American GIs who gave their lives in World War II.

Sam Goetz

Los Angeles

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I am glad that the WWII veterans got their memorial (May 30). I have been a strong advocate that any WWII memorial should contain a statue of editorial cartoonist Bill Mauldin's Willie and Joe. Every veteran would recognize them. WWII failed to accomplish its purpose, that is, to rid the world of current and future Tojos, Mussolinis, Hitlers, Lyndon B. Johnsons, Tony Blairs, George W. Bushs and Ariel Sharons.

I assure you that after World War III, those who survive will learn if spacecraft Earth is still habitable.

Ralph Orr

Manhattan Beach

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Re Steve Brodner's "Dedicating an Iraq War Memorial," Commentary, May 31: Congratulations! You chose Memorial Day to print the most vile cartoon of the year. We who served between 1942 and 1945 hoped we would do it for a brighter nation, not for such a spiteful one.

Richard Goldner

Los Angeles

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On Sunday, with incredible sadness, I witnessed a Memorial Day parade, not of high school bands or old-timer vets, but across my television screen. CBS' "60 Minutes" showed the faces of our dead in Iraq, one after the other, of every age, gender, color and branch of service. Somehow, I miss each of them. How soon can this parade be over and the Memorial Days again be about history?

Nancy R. May

Monrovia

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