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Forum, July 22: We’re in danger of losing the goals and dreams of our country

Published: 7/21/2020 10:00:14 PM
Modified: 7/21/2020 10:00:08 PM
We’re in danger of losing the goals and dreams of our country

This letter is in response to Jim Kenyon’s column “Pledge on the edge” (July 5) regarding the proposal to eliminate the reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the opening of meetings of the Windsor Selectboard. This bothers me a great deal. Let me explain.

We’re pledging “allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.” We have our differences, but I believe we are more united than we realize.

“And to the republic for which it stands.” We, the citizens, elect our representatives and they must answer to us, as we have the power to remove them at the ballot box.

We are “one nation, indivisible.” We share a history that we fought for many times over the last 244 years, and counting. The blood of many people of all stripes has been shed for our freedom. Freedom isn’t free.

“With liberty and justice for all.” The pledge should be said at all public governing meetings to remind all attending of this. This is still a work in progress, and when we say the pledge it is a reminder that we shall not give up this fight.

The colors red, white and blue have meaning. Red stands for the blood and valor of all who have fought, regardless of race, creed or nationality. White stands for purity — we’re still striving for this. Blue stands for vigilance and justice, something else we must continually work on.

It’s bad enough that many schools no longer recite the pledge. When I was in school (1948-1960), the pledge was recited daily, followed by the Lord’s Prayer and, in elementary school, the singing of America (My Country, ’Tis of Thee). I still want to sing this after reciting the pledge.

We’re losing the goals and dreams this country was founded on every time we eliminate a symbol of our freedom. Yes, there are some bumps and bruises, but we can’t give up and ignore a past we are learning from. We must constantly look to our future and work for liberty and justice for all.


Cornish Flat

All those people who hate America should get out

My turn to use my First Amendment right of free speech provided by someone’s blood and sacrifice.

This is directed to the people who hate America, its monuments, anthem and the flag of freedom. It’s time for them to get out. There are great deals out there to allow them to do so, but they have to leave behind the wealth they have accumulated under the symbols of freedom. True American patriots who love this country will stand by her and defend her against people like that to keep Old Glory flying high and proud. Some of that blood and sacrifice came from my family.



Words of wisdom, and laughs

Willem Lange’s column should be required reading when it appears each Wednesday in the Valley News. Each time I read it there are so many “bon mots” and words of wisdom, I need to get my pen and write them down immediately.

The July 15 column (“Don’t spend your principal; it’s all you’ve got”) was no less important. He quotes Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Mark Twain, Shakespeare, Brutus and Dana Bash (well, not exactly, he references her interview with the secretary of education) to name a few. His quote from Moynihan — “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts” — is so relevant to our times today. He quotes Shakespeare, in part: “Good name in man and woman, dear my lord, is the immediate jewel of their souls. ...” It reminded me of my father’s words. My father was a Wall Streeter and drummed “your word is your bond” into me. He said, “Where else in the world can you do millions of dollars worth of business on your word” but on Wall Street? (I’m not sure about the Wall Street of today.) I added my own: “You can break a contract, but you can’t break your word.”

Lange goes on to refer to the crazy beliefs floating around — that George Soros is putting his billions toward liberal causes to “destroy America” — and that thousands of people, “presumably at least minimally educated, appear to believe these ‘proven facts.’ ”

And that does not even scratch the tip of the iceberg regarding the sage thoughts and words from this very wise man. And, on top of it all, he’s funny.



Consider Maxfield property for homeless camp

The Hartford Selectboard should look to set up a homeless camp at the Maxfield property (“Town may designate homeless camp,” July 18). There are shelters, bathrooms and water fountains. Plenty of open space to be had. I just mentioned this to my daughter when we went there to walk our dog and we were the only ones there. What a waste of space that no one is using.


White River Junction

Vote yes on Article 1 for Norwich’s energy future

Thanks to the Norwich Energy Committee for keeping Norwich residents informed about Article 1 (previously Article 8). A virtual update on June 22 was presented to the public on the town facilities proposal. The presentation and video recording are on the 2020 Town Facilities tab at necVT.org.

The energy committee outlined the options, having a phased-in strategic plan to reduce fossil fuel use. Norwich, in 2019, voted to set an annual goal of 5% CO2 reduction. Vermont’s comprehensive energy plan calls for 90% renewable energy sources for all sectors by 2050. In Norwich, the primary sources of greenhouse gases are the town fleet (70%); Tracy Hall (15%); the town garage (10%) and the safety building apparatus bay (5%). The largest CO2 source is the town fleet. Unfortunately the technology is not available for electric trucks, graders and plows, although Norwich will begin switching over to hybrid police cruisers. The focus on Tracy Hall was the logical first step. Tracy Hall is not only in need of heating but also ventilation upgrades, cooling and energy conservation remediation.

These are the HVAC options, with their initial cost and 30-year cost:

■ Oil: $1.5 million/$4 million.

■ Propane: $1.5 million/$3.5 million.

■ Air-air heat pumps: $1.5 million/$2.5 million.

■ Ground heat pumps: $1.7 million/$2.5 million.

The potential tax impact is reasonable: A property valued at $200,000 would sees a tax increase of $30 a year; for a $400,000 property, $60 a year; for a $800,000 property, $90 a year.

Although Article 1 was primarily advanced to reduce our carbon footprint, just as critical are the ventilation systems in our public buildings. In the future, public buildings will need to minimize re-circulating air and use high efficiency air filtration systems. COVID-19 will not be the last viral illness we will encounter. Please vote yes on Article 1, we can’t continue to kick this can down the road from both a global warming and a public health perspective.



Stress academics over sports

Battered by COVID-19, universities across the country are canceling sports schedules and shutting down teams and facilities, in many cases permanently. So we are besieged with explanations, terms and phenomena — such as NCAA regulations, recruiting of players, student-athletes, athletic scholarships, huge salaries to coaches, possible pay to players, and vast university expenditures on stadiums and facilities.

It will surprise many Americans that such situations and terms and phenomena are virtually unknown in the higher education systems of most of the world. In almost all countries, there is little or no relationship between academics and sports. Universities exist to educate, not to sponsor and finance teams to play games against other universities. If students want to participate or specialize in a sport, they or their family join a private or municipal club that offers that sport. It is a separate activity. And it works, as Olympic results attest.

The U.S. approach (matched to a lesser extent by Canada) is not best in my view. It dilutes the value of academics and education. Ohio State, Texas, Ole Miss, and so many others, are known to and viewed by much of our public as sports entertainment enterprises rather than learning institutions. Football and basketball seem more important than history, literature, or physics. Players are idealized, not thinkers.

I respect most the universities that either do not sponsor or finance sports teams, or significantly downplay them. MIT, Brandeis, Chicago and Caltech are examples. These schools often have nonscholarship teams in some secondary sports, but they give precedence to athletics for all, and have good facilities that all can use. Go to MIT on most any day; you will see dozens and dozens of students running, working out, playing games against each other — but not preparing, under coaches with much greater incomes than distinguished professors, to visit Clemson or Oklahoma for matches.



It’s time for us to rethink single-use plastics

Now that we’re all improving our understanding of how to keep safe during COVID-19 with social distancing, hand-washing and facial coverings, it’s time to think again about single-use plastics in our lives.

A recent article in the journal Science reports that more than 1,000 metric tons of plastic are deposited every year on protected lands in the Western U.S. (A metric ton equals 2,205 pounds).

The sources of these plastic particles include industrial-use plastics, but also the fallout of our own habits: single-use plastic shopping bags, fibers from fleece and other clothing materials, ubiquitous plastic bottles and so on. Thousands of years are required to ultimately degrade plastic, and minute bits of these plastics have now been shown to penetrate our soils, water, our food chain and the air we breathe.

As reported in the Science article, the plastic load distributed just in our Western national parks and wilderness areas amounts to the equivalent of 120 million-300 million plastic water bottles each year.

I hope our local grocery and big box stores will please consider resuming their bans on single-use plastic shopping bags.

To the Valley News, please consider reducing the number of times our daily newspaper is enclosed in an otherwise useless plastic bag. Of course, we’d rather not have our morning newspaper soaked with rainwater, but if we have a newspaper box and tilt it appropriately, our paper will be sheltered from whatever rain might fall, and one more source of plastic can be curtailed.

To all of us, please think about plastic waste the next time we reach for another new plastic water bottle or purchase something wrapped in unnecessary plastic. We can all do better.



Of freedom and face masks

President Donald Trump will not make wearing face masks a federal mandate. He says he thinks people should have “freedom.” Well, if that’s true, why don’t smokers have the freedom to smoke wherever they want? Where is their freedom?



Suzanne Prentiss offers reasons to hope

In this dark moment of combined crises I have found reason to hope. Suzanne Prentiss is running to become our next state senator from New Hampshire’s District 5, and I believe she will be the very best person to represent us in Concord during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. It is clear that we must focus at the local and state level to develop systems for managing this public health emergency and its economic fallout. We must also face the challenges of climate change and social and economic injustice head-on.

Prentiss has proven herself to be a dedicated public servant and a leader. She has experience in emergency preparedness, including public health. She will be a compassionate listener who will work across the aisle to promote a progressive agenda in Concord. I personally know her to have the determination, the strength of character and the heart to work tirelessly to protect the health and welfare of all New Hampshire citizens. When I heard that she was interested in working for us in Concord, I could finally imagine a brighter future for our state.

Please join me in voting for Suzanne Prentiss in both the Sept. 8 primary election and the general election on Nov. 3. You will be very glad that you did.



Donald Trump is anti-science, anti-intelligence, pro-tragedy

The travesty of the Trump administration has gone on so long now some of us may think it just can’t get any worse, which is always a deceptive thing to tell yourself, especially now. Almost anything can get worse if you work to make it so, as President Donald Trump proves daily. As long as he is allowed to stay in office he will find new ways to drag our American way of life down with him as he drowns in his own incompetence.

I don’t like preachers telling me how to vote. I don’t like politicians telling me how to pray. I like to maintain that constitutional separation between church and state, thank you. That separation is blurred when a politician struts out to a church and holds up a Bible, for no reason other than a photo op — political manipulation.

I also don’t like politicians giving me medical advice when I want it from doctors, specialists in virology and contagion. And yet, in the midst of a pandemic that gets worse every day, Trump has politicized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because he does not care for its COVID-19 guidelines, especially in schools. He also mounts a bizarre smear campaign against a member of his own team, one of the world’s most eminent medical experts, because that renowned doctor insists on telling common-sense truth instead of bowing to Trump’s illiteracy.

This is premeditated ignorance, deliberate incompetence.

Things could certainly get worse because of Trump’s fear, and now he’s running scared. He’s afraid he’s about to get his unenlightened butt kicked out of office, and he’s right about that. What he can never face is the reality that he’s getting booted out because of his own tragic job performance. Watch out for one of his ongoing dirty weapons — voter suppression — silencing the voices of millions of Americans by trampling on their fundamental right to vote. He does this as long as you and I enable him to do this.


North Haverhill

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