Letters to the Editor

Cowardly columnist should respect troops fighting war

Sam Dunham’s opinion piece calling our soldiers “little more than mercenaries” says more about who he is than anything about our troops serving in harm’s way (“Selfless heroes are often little more than mercenaries,” Jan. 23).

I don’t know where to begin. Yes, the troops receive pay, and yes, they volunteer to serve where they are sent. But that doesn’t make them mercenaries. A mercenary is a professional soldier paid to fight for an army other than that of his or her country and who works only for personal profit. How many soldiers and their families did Dunham interview to prepare his opinion? I would guess none.

Our son has completed two tours in Iraq. He was commissioned through the AFROTC program at UAA several years ago. He returned from his last tour in December. He trained Iraqi police and patrolled streets in Baghdad. He said he would be willing to go back again to try to help. It’s not about paychecks. We don’t want him to go back. We didn’t sleep well when he was there.

I won’t argue about whether we should be in Iraq. I will argue with a mean-spirited, cynical opinion piece that castigates our troops and demeans their service. Dunham’s article is the most unprofessional, shallow, ignorant, vicious and unfeeling piece I have read in any periodical since the war began.

Sure, I’m taking it personally. He’s talking trash about my kid and about other parents’ kids. He’s attacking the motives and moral principles of our troops. I admire our son and what he’s done, and all the others in uniform.

Dunham ridiculed people who display the yellow ribbons supporting our troops. We had yellow ribbons on our mailbox and on our front door. The family across the street has yellow ribbons up. Their son is in Iraq again. What can I say? It’s a symbol of love for an absent one gone to war. It’s a silent prayer. It’s a good thing.

I think it’s fine to be for peace and against war. Speak out vigorously. But don’t launch scurrilous name-calling attacks against our sons and daughters in uniform. It’s cowardly and it’s wrong. I suggest Dunham should do his homework. Go and interview soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, soldiers’ spouses and their children, seriously wounded soldiers, families who have lost their son or daughter. Then write your article.

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If you’ve got the guts.

Bill Gehler


Students dealing with rising costs need a degree

Anyone who can successfully juggle school and rent and food and gas and health care and tuition and everything else that has to be dealt with nowadays should receive an honorary economics degree (“Students on a budget consider health care a luxury,” Jan. 23).

Dale Morris
Web site submission

Student president doesn’t represent this student

I’m glad this article was written for what I assume are the most replied-to reasons as well (“Influx of applications creates delays for seniors,” Jan. 16). I’m replying to thank James Halpin for quoting Anthony Rivas. If he did so accurately, I’m now aware of the type of student body president that was elected. He doesn’t represent my sentiments, nor that of most of the student body. He sounds like a prick that would better represent the voice of the administration.

S. Morgan

Replace elephant with a video to continue education

Many zoos in this country are attempting to update their animal enclosures to duplicate the natural environment of a given animal as much as possible (“Is the Alaska Zoo failing to care for its only elephant,” Jan. 23). This not only gives viewers insight into the real world of each animal species but also attempts to provide the same stimuli for the animals to keep them healthy – both physically and mentally.

The Alaska Zoo has accomplished absolutely nothing in providing a better environment for Maggie. She is without the company of other elephants and housed in a cement compound that more closely resembles a jail. The zoo should send her to a sanctuary where she can be with other elephants and be allowed to act like a real elephant. Replace her with a video of elephants in their natural state. Don’t give children the wrong impression.

Susan Antonius
Redondo Beach, Calif.

Maggie needs a wide-open space to escape cruelty

The Alaska Zoo has a responsibility to recognize the difference between Maggie’s quality of life and the entertainment value of its guests (“Is the Alaska Zoo failing to care for its only elephant,” Jan. 23). Are they truly doing what is in her best interests or that of the zoo’s?

Elephants are highly intelligent and extremely social animals. Maggie needs the vast space of a sanctuary to provide mental stimulation and develop healthy social relationships. She merely exists from one boring day to the next – a monumental tragedy and loss. Maggie should be allowed to live her life her way – to roam free with the needed companionship of other elephants. Otherwise, this is just animal cruelty at its peak.

Judy Bratis
Los Angeles