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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

The Meaning of Memorial Day

June 01, 2005

On occasions such as Memorial Day, politicians sometimes use political and emotional hyperbole to make a point, or perhaps to score points with the American people. In the May 31 article, "3 Last Letters Home From Iraq Frame Bush's Tribute to War Dead," the president has sunk to a new low with his manipulative references to letters from dead soldiers and their heartbreaking quotes, such as "I know it will be hard, but I gave my life so you could live. Not just live, but live free." And another, "I died doing something that I truly love, and for a purpose greater than myself."

What is deeply tragic about the loss of those young lives is how misguided and misled they were by Bush and his gang of warmongers. This war has nothing to do with protecting our freedom or dying for noble causes, and intelligent people all over the world know that. And to compound the tragedy of their deaths, Bush uses the words of those innocent, naive young men for political gain. How shameless, how sad, how typical.

Robert Carrelli

Thousand Oaks

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President Bush calls Americans "reluctant warriors." What he really means is that patriotic Americans send their children to war while the politicians keep their children safe at home.

Donald Coonradt

Long Beach

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The May 27 front-page photo showed the pain in the face of a lady who lost her husband in Iraq. It tore at my guts. I wish that those in the White House who are responsible for this war were fighting on the front lines.

Peter Weisbrod

Laguna Beach

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While revealing and heartfelt, Frank Schaeffer's article, "Fathers, Sons and the Lessons of War" (May 30), simultaneously omits and raises the obvious and continuously perplexing question of the justification for the current war in Iraq. By most accounts, we were duped into this war, and the numbers of youth taken daily renders far too little outrage. Yet it meanders forward with no end discussed.

One can applaud the valor and fortitude of our armed services without accepting the legitimacy of its premise and actions. Additionally, at some point we must face the realities of so many other serious priorities facing our homeland that, left unheeded, will devastate our society over time.

The foregoing leaves many of us forlorn about the future of this blessed country.

Ronald L. Wallace

Sherman Oaks

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Re "Fathers, Sons and the Lessons of War": When we also understand that Iraqis are not the "other" and know in our hearts that they too are our sons, daughters, brothers and sisters; when we consider it our sacred duty to shed tears for all victims of violence; when we embrace strangers and strive to feel connected to the world; when we are humbled by the inherent dignity of all people -- fathers and sons will have learned the lessons of war.

Paul Nicoll

South Pasadena

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Re "Learning to Say No to the Military," Voices, May 28: Have you no sense of occasion? You published an article justifying conscientious objection to military service on the very weekend the nation set aside to remember American soldiers, sailors, airmen and their families who made the ultimate sacrifice in defending our freedoms. Conscientious objection is a right of our democracy, and one of the freedoms for which these sacrifices were made. But this is a time for us to remember those who stepped forward when these freedoms were threatened; those such as my aircrew in Vietnam who crashed and died just a month after I left for home.

Lewis L. Bird Jr.

Huntington Beach

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