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Week of May 14, 2003


This Scud's for you: I found "The Star-Spangled Bender" very disturbing [Randall Roberts and Mike Seely, May 7]. You picture us veterans as nothing but a bunch of beer-swilling drunks. You obviously have spent no time in the military, or you might see things differently. These men and a host of others like them fought for the right that you have to make them out as over-the-hill drunks?

I am a life member of VFW Post 2866 in St Charles, a retired Air Force NCO and a Vietnam veteran. My post recently donated two dogs to the county sheriff and one to the city police. We donated a dialysis machine to St. Joseph Hospital and a Jaws of Life machine to the fire department. We sponsor youth activities and many more community activities. I'm sure the posts you visited do a lot of the same kind of public service. Your article was demeaning and an affront to the men who have served this country. Shame on you.
Tom Bieser
St. Charles

The Right to Remain
Like father, like son: I found Bruce Rushton's "Hell No, They Won't Go" [April 23] interesting for personal reasons. Ten years ago, my husband and I attended a campaign rally for George I in Joplin, on the campus of Missouri Southern State College. We were told we could only go in if we did not take our signs. One agent offered a preprinted Bush-campaign sign as a replacement. I refused and tried to argue my rights as an American. He wasn't interested and forcefully told me to move. In fact, in a fine display of "family values" the GOP was preaching about at the time, I watched as Secret Service agents destroyed signs that a group of six-year-olds made to proudly show their president -- right in front of the children's eyes.

My group and I moved across the way, but we were then told we were going to be ushered to a designated protest area by sheriff's deputies. Given the situation, we opted to enter the rally without our signs but then were told we could not go in at all. We were herded into a square cordoned off with crime-scene tape. There was a huge building between us and the rally, as well as quite a distance. I watched as Jasper County sheriff's deputies manhandled a photojournalism student I knew. He had taken a picture of the designated protest area and those of us in it, as well as one of the deputies. The officer demanded the film. The photographer refused. He then grabbed the photographer and literally shook him and demanded the camera, threatening arrest. The ACLU got involved after the fact, but I never heard of any resolution. I doubt it was satisfactory. I hope they are more effective this time.

George II isn't doing anything new. Just like the rest of his presidency, he is taking all of his cues from Daddy. The only difference between now and then? Daddy didn't have the lame excuse of "national security" to hide behind. I'll never forget that day. I have a piece of crime-scene tape hanging from my refrigerator to remind me. I hope those children whose construction-paper American flags were torn and trampled by Secret Service agents, who are now of voting age, haven't forgotten, either.
Tammy Merrett-Murry
St. Louis

Whine country (part 1): As a child of the early '70s who lived in Washington, D.C. -- the site of almost daily protests -- I am getting rather perturbed at the modern anti-war protesters and the newer editions of "civil rights" activists. None of them seem to understand the concept of civil disobedience. If the tenor of the action crosses the line into breaking the law, it is to be expected and hoped that arrests will occur. That is the entire point of civil disobedience: nonviolent, unlawful actions which fill jail cells. In fact, true activists also refuse bail and sometimes resort to hunger strikes or further acts of resistance while in custody.

Those who whine about arrests defeat the purpose of the actions. The ACLU should look into the shuttling of protestors to unseen areas, but the protesters should examine their motives and dedication to their causes.
John Korst
St. Louis

Whine country (part 2): As has been typical of the responses of Fox News viewers and other warmongers, the sole concern of Jessica Martin's April 30 letter regarding "Hell No, They Won't Go" was the "whiny" liberal protesters and not the greater matter of why Bush and the media are being sheltered from dissenters. Don't you think there's something seriously wrong when Bush refuses to acknowledge his opposition?
Jeremy Lane
St. Louis

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