Buses to VA centerThe Mass Transit Administration wants to...

the Forum

November 19, 1992

Buses to VA center

The Mass Transit Administration wants to eliminate all No. 4 bus services to Fort Howard Veterans Administration Medical Center in January.

In June of this year, the MTA cut the service from seven trips a day to four. Now it is complaining about a decline in riders. I ask you, whose fault is it? These are the same people that ask us to leave our cars home and use the bus.

There will be an MTA hearing at Sparrows Point High School at 7 p.m. Dec. 3. Please attend. Also, call elected officials and let them know how you feel about this. Our veterans fought for us, now let's fight for them.

John McDonough Sr.

Baltimore

Gays can have role to play in the military

As a career military man who has little use for homosexuals and their lifestyle, I probably should be appalled at the president-elect's plans to do away with the long-standing policy that prohibits gays in the armed forces. However, I am ambivalent on the subject.

During my year in Vietnam (1966-67), I met T/Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, an Air Force noncommissioned officer who, in 1972, ended an exemplary 17-year career when he voluntarily admitted he was homosexual.

He was brought before a board whose findings were a foregone conclusion -- he was given a general (less than honorable) discharge, which cost him his retirement. I had retired from the Air Force in 1971 and was one of the reporters who covered this hearing, which made national news. Mr. Matlovich died of complications of AIDS in the mid-1980s.

I never worked directly with or seriously socialized with this gentleman, either in Vietnam or at Langley AFB, Va., where we were both assigned after our Vietnam tours, but I knew him to be one of the most outstanding NCOs I met in my 23 years in the military.

I had no idea he was homosexual and I don't know anybody who did. He kept his personal life to himself.

The military reportedly has discharged some 14,000 homosexuals over the past 10 years. I'm sure that among those people were many whom the military could lose without missing a beat; however, there were others, like Sergeant Matlovich, who were the type of people no organization can afford to dismiss as a matter of policy. Good people are hard to find.

While I don't approve of a gay lifestyle, I don't think members' sexual persuasion is any of the military's business as long as it is kept private.

The military should act decisively in cases where behavior is outside established norms. Military people, like all of us, should be judged by what they do, not by their preferences, sexual or otherwise.

Charles A. Frainie

Woodlawn

Family values

I believe everyone will agree with the family values taught in President-elect Clinton's household.

When daughter Chelsea was asked by a television producer if she would like to meet a certain Hollywood star, she declined, but asked instead whether she knew Nelson Mandela. This child was taught values many of us would be proud of in our own families.

Beulah Baumstein

Baltimore

Children's room

There is so much negative news these days, one feels almost frivolous when giving compliments. Nevertheless, compliments are due the librarians at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, especially those in the Children's Room on the lower level.

As a long-time teacher in the Mt. Vernon area, I have been privileged to be able to walk only a few blocks to the library with my students.

Throughout the years, from Beth Caples to Selma Levi, we have been fortunate to have capable, child-focused librarians who greet us with pleasure, and who know the importance of early exposure to the fascinating world of books.

Even though staff hours and services have been cut, the librarians are still able to schedule group story-times. New authors are introduced and sometimes the chosen books have special themes.

The children delight in their dramatizations, which often include puppetry. They always include child participation -- rhyming, mimicry and sometimes singing. The students leave smiling, and are always eager to take a theme book home.

We teachers like to talk about learning experiences, and this weekly scheduled trip to the library is certainly a positive one. From the age of three, Grace and St. Peter's students know the value of having a library card.

As they get older, they learn to be responsible for keeping them in a safe place until their next use. They are also aware that books are due on a certain date, and they try to remember to return them on time.

I wonder how many Baltimoreans have visited the sunny, charming, welcoming Children's Room.

Presiding over the fish pond under the big bow window is Baltimore sculptor Perna Krick's "The Young Siren" -- a figure riding a fish with cheerful abandon. Over the mantel of the huge fireplace is husband Reuben Kramer's fish sculpture. On several shelves there is a special collection of books (noted for their illustrations), given in his wife's memory.

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