Editor: I think back on the pride I took in our country and its strong leadership 45 years ago. Japan had just surrendered, and we were coming home. I recall the soaring emotion as our Marine troopship entered Puget Sound early one fall morning and I saw a heavy cruiser, shrouded in mist, heading west. It flashed in Morse Code two simple words: ''Well done.''
Lots of Marines had tears in their eyes, tears of pride and gratitude for what our country had been able to do, for its leadership, for its inner strength and unity. To a great degree, America was the savior of the world, and the early post-war years saw our strength and morality manifest itself in rebuilding much of Europe and Asia, especially through the Marshall Plan.
Contrast that with America today. We are becoming an economic basket case -- little more than a banana republic, the one exception being our Persian Gulf activity. And we're there primarily because we have no domestic energy policy. Of course we don't -- that requires leadership.
We have a Congress best described as gutless. Re-election is their primary concern. Perish the thought of passing any legislation requiring Americans, from the rich on down, to do some real -- repeat real -- belt tightening.
Perish the thought of telling Israel either to straighten up and start treating millions of Palestinians as human beings or else lose its sole source of survival -- American aid. Some strategic ally!
Perish the thought of demanding that South Korea and Germany pay for our troop presence. Or that Japan become a proper trading partner.
The socio-economic future of this country, barring the return of courageous leadership, is catastrophic. Hopefully, our leaders will face this and come up with the courage required.
Editor: The city/county task force is talking about using financial incentives to encourage recycling.
The best form of financial incentive is one in which people actually get paid not to throw stuff in the trash. I'm talking about refundable deposits on bottles, cans and the like, where the consumer has to turn in the empty container in order to get his money back.
That's what happens a few hundred miles north of here in the Canadian province of Ontario. All domestic beer is sold in bottles or cans on which the consumer pays a refundable deposit. The same is true of soft drinks and even those large plastic containers of milk.
Another important waste management policy in Ontario is reusability. Those returned bottles aren't melted down to make new containers -- they're sent back to the brewers or bottlers to be washed and refilled.
The plastic milk containers are also reusable. That provides a double bonus: they don't end up in landfills and they are made of sturdier plastic which doesn't buckle, so the milk is easier to pour.
Since they're really serious about protecting the environment in Ontario, they have curbside recycling too. Of course.
No Tax Limits
Editor: According to a poll commissioned by The Sun, 59 percent of those surveyed in Baltimore County supported proposed limits on how much their county government could collect in property taxes. However, the same poll found that when respondents were asked if they would be willing to pay more in taxes to improve schools, provide for the homeless, promote recycling or fight the war on drugs, they said yes!
Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, is just around the corner. Voters in Baltimore County must decide whether they want quality education for the children, housing for the homeless and a reduction of drug use in Baltimore County.
Voting for Question T will undermine all services that are provided by Baltimore County government. Before you vote, list the many services that are provided to you as a citizen of Baltimore County. Are you willing to see a reduction of all these services?
Make your vote count -- vote against Question T and allow your elected representatives decide how the cost of government will be paid. If you do not like their approach, vote against them.
Huzzah for Rights
Editor: Well, glory be! The fine people of Florida realized we do have rights and so do artists, whether or not we agree with them. Politicians and cops ought to stick to their jobs and let the people listen to what they want.
Mt. Vernon's Dark Windows
Editor: It is regrettable that the renaissance of Mount Vernon Place is marred by the new storm windows of One West Mount Vernon Place, future home of the Walters' Asian art collection.
I am sick about these windows; they are simply unacceptable. The fake mullion and overly dark window tint would be comical if they did not look so awful.
The character of the building is being destroyed unnecessarily.
Why couldn't a pane of glass with ultra-violet-absorbing material be placed behind the original windows, thus preserving the exterior?
What disturbs me most is how someone with the eye for beauty could have failed to see how ugly and cheap the new storm windows make the building appear. These philistine changes have been wrought upon one of the most important buildings in Baltimore.
Such an appalling eyesore affects us all.
C. James Troy Jr.