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CONCEIVED AS A program to honor veterans of the U.S. armed forces, Honor Flight has taken first scores, then hundreds, now thousands of service men and women to visit their memorials in Washington, D.C. As the son of a retired U.S. Navy Commander and World War II veteran who has reached 90 this summer, I am especially aware of the importance of taking the remaining WW II veterans to see their memorial – finished some 60 years after the close of that conflict.

I write now to register deeply felt reservations about the ways in which veterans who have been hosted by Honor Flight are described by its promoters. First though, I would point out that the WW II veterans who have spoken of their experience with Honor Flight are unanimous in believing that no such special treatment was owed them: “we did our duty, plain and simple” would accurately describe their selflessness.

In contrast to the World War II veterans’ motivation of selfless service, promoters of Honor Flight insist on describing the honorees as “rock stars” and “heroes.” What’s wrong with that? Plenty, in my book.

Calling them “rock stars” is to equate their devotion to duty with mere celebrity. On the other hand, calling all of them “heroes,” indiscriminately, is to laud them with a distinction that they would not claim for themselves and that ought to be reserved – and that they believe should be reserved – only for the few who performed exemplary service above and beyond the call of duty. To call them “rock stars” is to denigrate their service; to call them “heroes” is to misunderstand who they really are. Words ought to reflect reality. Veterans should be honored for their true service, not for factitious or imaginary greatness.

Finally, to be escorted by a self-appointed “honor guard” of well-meaning boors on loud motorcycles is an indignity visited upon them without their consent. It is an action calculated to make the escort feel important through their few minutes of vicarious notoriety. Such a parade of ersatz patriotism is a parody of the genuine, selfless patriotism that moved World War II veterans to give, if necessary, their all.

PHILIP P. CHANDLER

Alamogordo

I’VE BEEN READING the Journal articles concerning the problems within the Veterans Administration’s Department of Medicine & Surgery hospitals. Up to now, I have not seen any articles that placed the blame for the VA’s patient care problems on the real culprit. It seems that it is easier to find a scapegoat rather than accept responsibility.

However, in the Journal (“$17B deal to improve veterans’ health care,” July 29), the truth finally came out, although the culprit(s) did not come out and admit that they are responsible for the VA’s current hospital patient care problems. Specifically, if Congress had been doing what it should have been doing all along – providing the VA with the proper funding – these problems that have now come to light would not have occurred.

However, this is nothing new! Every year, Congress makes cuts without really assessing the agencies’ circumstances and related outcomes of their funding reductions, or they choose not to know. Congress should have come out publicly and admitted its part in the VA’s current patient care problems from the very start.

Having said this, it does not absolve the hospital administrators who willingly or unwillingly decided to keep “separate books” concerning patient waiting times in order to present a “no problem” picture to the public and their VA Central Office superiors. However, it is hard for me to believe that their VACO superiors were not aware of what the hospital management teams were doing.

In a nutshell, the real culprit for the VA’s current patient care mess is Congress. They should “man up” to it instead of passing the buck. In any case, I’m glad that they are now doing something to provide the VA with the necessary funding to help them eliminate the problem.

NAHUM B. CASTILLO

Albuquerque

APART FROM massive bribes in tax allowances, etc., to be paid by we, the people, to lure Tesla into siting its battery-making plant here, has anyone found out how much water per day this plant will use and what state that water will be left in when and if it is returned to the water system?

The production of “clean” energy often requires massive inputs of water that is rendered too poisonous to use for any other purposes. Our political masters (are considering) a massive new building project – 90,000 homes, many presumably with swimming pools – with no new source I’ve heard of for the water 90,000 new households would need.

Are the bloody politicians planning to buy votes with Tesla jobs and construction jobs which, by their impact, will kill the city by literally sucking its already heavily stressed water resources dry? “A job” doesn’t necessarily equal “a good job” – well-paid, lasting and non-lethal to the health and well-being of the local community.

Until we learn this basic, obvious lesson, we will just continue digging our own pit into oblivion. Remember that jet fuel bleed that Kirtland was going to “clean up” back in the ’70s, and that’s now much bigger and more dangerous to our water supply than – supposedly – anyone thought?

This is a desert environment. Be guided by the realities of our water situation or we will dry up and blow away – “jobs” and McMansions and all.

SUZY CHARNAS

Albuquerque

I WAS STUNNED to see the front page story about the new military-style vehicles (“APD ready to use new armor when appropriate,” Aug. 2). Is there no one in APD or the mayor’s office who may have anticipated what the public’s reaction to this purchase might be? Surely, in light of national and local outcry to previous APD actions, someone – especially the mayor – should have put a halt to this unnecessary and insensitive action.

This purchase was wrong on so many levels. First, APD has become the national symbol for an out-of-control police department. Militarization of police departments is a major problem of concern everywhere. Second, local fear and distrust of the police is rampant in all segments of Albuquerque society. Third, the DOJ’s report was a scathing indictment of the culture of violence fostered by APD and its frequent disregard of constitutional rights.

Lastly, does APD really need to spend huge amounts of money on these types of vehicles? How many new patrol cars or increased training for officers could this money have paid for instead?

MAURICE MACKEY

Albuquerque

APD GETS RID of military-gifted Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, but gets the quarter-million-dollar Rook, “which looks like a small tank without a mounted gun,” with “various attachments, such as a battering ram and a giant claw … .” And APD has also applied for the third-of-a-million-dollar MedCat, with a “similar function to the MRAP, but it is smaller.”

Deputy Chief William Roseman: “We understand the concerns of the community with what they see as militarizing the police department. And we are trying to respond to that.” By spending a half-million dollars on what appear to still be military vehicles? Just how are “we trying to respond to that?”

MICHAEL BARON

Corrales

THERE HAS BEEN much sensationalism in the mainstream media recently regarding the “militarization of police departments.” It’s an especially hot topic among liberal progressives and Libertarians who question why the police would ever need such a piece of equipment.

If you or someone you know questions why police departments need vehicles like this, Google the North Hollywood bank robbery from February of 1997. This incident changed the way police departments equipped themselves to respond to heavily armed subjects. Police officers had to use armored cars because they weren’t equipped to respond to these types of shooters.

I’m truly sorry to see that APD and Deputy Chief William Roseman have had to succumb to the pressures of the Department of Justice and those who criticize APD for having armored military vehicles. Roseman described the MRAP as a “bullet catcher.” Indeed, it is a bullet catcher, and there will be a time when APD or BCSO will need a bullet catcher to protect their officers and/or the public they serve.

You can also rest assured that, when that time comes and APD doesn’t have those resources, those who criticized having them in the first place will complain the loudest! I can only imagine what an emasculated police department Albuquerque will have once the Department of Justice has finished its work here.

I empathize with those men and women who put on a badge every day in our city – it is indeed a difficult time to be a cop!

FREDERICK W. “BILL” REED

Albuquerque

I APPLAUD the governor’s efforts in sending first-graders home with a book to read during the summer. It will take much effort on behalf of the first-graders’ parents to ensure the children are reading. Our teachers shouldn’t be viewed as baby sitters, but as educators. Go to your kid’s parent/teacher meetings. Read what they are reading and ask them questions about the material. It’s time to move our state out of poverty for the next generation.

TERI HELMICK

Albuquerque

I WOULD LIKE to find an attorney who can take on the Republicans in the U.S. House and sue them for wasting copious tax dollars and not doing the job that they are being paid to do! I resent them for their arrogance and hypocrisy. Rome is burning and these “leaders” are fiddling.

JUDY D. JONES

Tijeras

THE PREMISE for the July 30 editorial (“Know the consequences of letting folks get a little high”) contains a basic flaw: It assumes that the choice facing New Mexico is that of either legalizing weed or having no weed.

The reality is that the choice is between legalizing weed or continuing, through prohibition, to support the black market for weed. That black market is supplied by violent cartels south of our border and by violent gangs inside the state. Legal weed would be supplied by job-producing, law-abiding, taxpaying New Mexico citizens.

Your list of “consequences” for legal weed is no different than that for the consequences of black market weed, but with none of the benefits of legalization mentioned above.

JOHN GILLETT

Estancia

SWELTERING TEMPERATURES are here again and with that comes the possibility of another “little one” being left in a hot car while mom or dad runs an errand, or is so preoccupied that they forget that they are not alone in the car.

We have already had at least two incidents this summer that could have ended tragically if someone had not noticed the child in the vehicle. Because we have become aware that these situations can and have happened here, might something as simple as a parent placing a “baby on board” sticker on a window in the vehicle help to prevent the loss of a child. Someone walking past a vehicle with this sticker might be motivated to peek inside.

Maybe some local businesses – possibly banks or grocery stores – would be willing to make these stickers available to the public. It certainly can’t hurt to consider this and it could save a child’s life.

KAREY S. HARPER

Albuquerque

RE: “TOO YOUNG Too Soon,” (Aug. 4).

It’s true that more young people are having strokes, but did you know that kids can have strokes, too? Nearly one in a thousand children have strokes, sometimes while still in utero. These strokes can cause lifelong injury and disabilities, including motor and cognitive impairments, learning disorders and seizures.

But children who have had strokes, and their families, don’t have to remain isolated. The national Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association offers support. Our New Mexico chapter is having its first meet-up on Sunday, Aug. 17, from 3-5 p.m. at the Flying Star on Rio Grande Boulevard.

To learn more about kids and strokes, visit CHASA.org and, to connect with other families, look for the CHASA page on Facebook. There, parents can also find our regional CHASA page.

KATIE STONE

Albuquerque

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