Letters to the Editor

Come celebrate 30 years!

Writer lacks compassion, perspective

I was about to consign Sam Dunham’s column on service members to the recycle bin with a shrug and a wry smile, when I saw the tears come to my daughter’s eyes (“Selfless heroes are often little more than mercenaries,” Jan. 23).

After Sept. 11, she gave up dependent tuition at UAA to join the Air Force. This year she is back at UAA completing her interrupted education, along with many other veterans of this era. Several young men and women she grew up with are still serving. One, a junior dog-mushing rival, is recovering from the loss of both legs.

She was hurt most by the implication that she, and they, joined the military for the money. Certainly, she said, no one thinks that starting pay of $13,800 a year is enough to make people leave home, sacrifice many basic civilian comforts and risk their lives for that kind of money. Does the writer really think their lives are worth so little?

Perhaps, I suggested, since we place no obligation on our citizens for national service, military or civilian, the writer can’t conceive of that concept of duty. Perhaps the things that motivate him are limited to simple monetary rewards, and he can’t understand more complex motivations.

Maybe, in what he considers the function of a Devil’s Advocate, as conceived by the Catholic Church, he needed to construct an argument no matter how flimsy the premise. Abolished in 1983 by Pope John Paul II, the office no longer exists in the Church, but the term still is used by those that see a duty to be skeptical.

Veterans, I told her, get used to all sorts of treatment from those who did not choose to serve. With smaller numbers of veterans in the all-volunteer force, the shared understanding of the meaning of service has shrunk.

While Dunham refers to the most recent maltreatment of veterans in the Vietnam era, history records similar poor treatment after the Revolutionary War, Civil War and World War I. Perhaps only after World War II and the passage of the GI Bill were veterans acknowledged fully for their service.

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We agreed that the display of a “Support Our Troops” magnet is a pretty minimal effort for many. We can’t speak for everyone with a bumper sticker, but some of us, with family members serving or memories of our own time in service, are saying, “Please don’t forget them and please don’t abuse them when they return.”

His column left us feeling sad for him if the feelings expressed were the limits of his understanding and perception.

Mel Kalkowski
Anchorage

Palin off to good start

Gov. Palin seems to be taking care of business (“Palin appoints 4 members to UA Board of Regents,” Feb. 6). She may be a Republican, but at least she’s a woman. I’m eager to see how her administration progresses.

Dale Morris

Web site submission

Recylcing should be a unified effort

While we are heartened by Nick Zapata’s interest and enthusiasm in expanding the awareness and activities related to recycling and sustainability in the residential community, it is our sincere hope that he was not disingenuous in his commitment to networking with existing clubs and organizations on campus that are already involved with this movement. As a representative of UAA’s sustainability movement – including the Sustainability Club, USUAA Sustainability Committee, and Recycling Club – we cannot emphasize enough that it is only through coalition-building that sustainability will be a viable and influential interest at the university. Therefore, it is critical that everyone involved should seek allies with whom we can strengthen our structural and organizational force, as well as increase the diversity, ideas and social capital that are necessary for successful reform. By focusing on creating a unified front of concerned students, both on our own campus and system-wide, rather than a series of small, detached associations, we have the potential for inducing positive change within our community and ensuring the health and sustainability of the movement itself. Thank you.

Heather Houston
UAA Sustainability Club
Phillip Louie
USUAA Senator, Sustainability Committee
Tyler Moore
Recycling Club