Remembering the folly of warMany Memorial Days have moved...

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June 04, 1991

Remembering the folly of war

Many Memorial Days have moved into my spirit, more than 60. Some I remember vividly; others are lost beyond recall. On this one, a bumper sticker aroused me to meditate. It read, "Happy Memorial Day."

Happy?

What had we come to? Another long hedonistic weekend? A time to repeat the frivolous jingoism spawned by the manipulators of power as they wrapped the Stars and Stripes around the deaths of many thousands and spread the banner over the destruction of many thousand square miles?

While those questions suggested a symptom of "the sickness unto death" in a society, my ruminations took me to many men and women, some of my generation, whose memories brought forth again their mourning and gratitude for relatives and friends who died in vicious battle.

I was born in the aftermath of the Great War, the penultimate rivalry of the English and German nation states. I remember teachers telling us about the horrors of trench warfare, the cynicism deriving from the death of innocence and the turning of many men from churches which had hoisted the flag on the Christian cross.

Not much later, I heard the British declaring war on the German Reich. My generation went to war; my relatives and friends lie dead or walk wounded in so many ways. Tens of millions were lost to the human family in less than a decade. Then came Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Grenada, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Lebanon and Iraq. The flow of blood continues, and the promises, so necessary for inciting public support, can never be fulfilled.

Why is it, I asked myself on Memorial Day 1991, we are impelled continuously to offer human sacrifice on the altars of the deified nation states? Why is it that we ignore the records of human history and the insights of Homer, Euripides, Isaiah, Jesus, Mohammed, Francis of Assisi, Buddha, Gandhi and so many others? How much longer can we demonize other human beings and freely practice human sacrifice without destroying the very soul of our society?

Sherman Roddy

Woodstock

Wrong on Brady

Two recent letters grossly misrepresent the Brady bill and the level of support for the bill.

Ronald L. Dowling (May 20) calls the bill "a cruel hoax", and Terry James Browning (May 24) calls it "a big laugh." Mr. Dowling describes the bill's supporters as "pseudo-crime fighters" and "beaming liberal fools still in the fantasy of the '60s." Mr. Browning blames "liberals, Democrats and newspaper writers" for misleading the public on gun control bills. Both writers are way off target.

The Brady bill is a federal extension of the many successful waiting periods and background checks now in effect in several states. In 1990 the seven-day waiting period in Maryland enabled police to catch more than 750 people who were trying to purchase handguns illegally from legitimate gun dealers. In 1990 in California the 15-day waiting period stopped 2,182 prohibited handgun sales. In the 20 years that New Jersey has required a background check for handgun purchases, more than 10,000 felons have been caught trying to buy handguns. It's hardly a hoax or a big laugh.

The latest Gallup poll showed that 95 percent of the public JTC supports the bill. Every poll of gun owners shows they overwhelmingly support a seven-day waiting period. The Fraternal Order of Police, representing 220,000 members, endorsed the Brady bill at its convention two years ago. The attendees, acting on instructions from their rank and file, voted in favor of the bill by a ratio of 11 to 1. That's hardly the support of "pseudo-crime fighters."

The Brady bill is a valid, workable, well-supported bill that will save lives.

Fred Davis

The writer is corresponding secretary of Marylanders Against = Handgun Abuse.

O's need Robinson

Twenty-five years ago I had the opportunity of playing in the Oriole organization. I'm not from Baltimore and I didn't know anything about the Orioles at the time. However, the class and character of the Oriole organization made a lasting impression on me. Not only did the whole organization play a classy style of ball but, even more impressive, everyone was treated with respect.

It's different now. The reputation of style and class has faded badly. The Orioles are run by young yuppies who don't know a screwball from Roland Hemond.

Frank Robinson wasn't fired because of the Orioles' record. Robinson was a threat to the hacks who are running the O's into the ground. The owner of this club had better wake up and shake up the front office. A good start would be to bring back Frank Robinson - as general manager.

John Gage

Baltimore

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