Only Vietnam memories remain aboard hospital ship


November 10, 1993|By DAN RODRICKS

"If they made it to the Sanctuary, they had a good chance of making it home," Jane Bolduc says.

She's a Calvert County nurse and Vietnam veteran who spent a year or so tending to wounded troops aboard the USS Sanctuary, an old Navy hospital ship now docked at an old pier in South Baltimore. This Friday, Jane, who started her tour of duty a week after the Tet offensive of 1968, will lead a delegation of nurses back to the Sanctuary, the first time they've seen the ship since the war.

"I've warned them," she says, "to be prepared to see an old, rusting ship. C-Deck, which contained the surgical units, has been gutted. It will be a little disorienting for some of them." The nurses' visit to the Sanctuary coincides with ceremonies this week to honor the 11,500 military women who served in Vietnam during the war, as well as the 265,000 women who were in uniform during the Vietnam era. Tomorrow, Veterans Day, a bronze statue of three women helping a wounded GI will be dedicated. The statue stands in Washington near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which bears the names of eight nurses who were killed in Vietnam.

Giant's shrinking wisdom

"Changing lifestyles" is one of the official reasons given for Giant Food Inc.'s decision to break from an honorable tradition and open its stores on Thanksgiving. Until now, Giant, a class act in the competitive supermarket biz, gave employees the day off, and even took out newspaper ads proclaiming why: It was important for its workers "to be home with their families for Thanksgiving."

This year, some 5,000 Giant employees will be on the job, and a lot of them are unhappy about it. Workers at the Gucci Giant in Pikes- ville sent a protest letter to Israel Cohen, chairman and chief executive officer. "Dear Izzy," it says, "We are all very upset. This is a family holiday that all Americans celebrate -- all religions, all races, everyone. . . . Our society wonders what is happening to the family concept. Why is it going downhill? One of the reasons is because we have no family time anymore. Stores are open on Sunday and most holidays. All that matters is the almighty dollar. Now our store is going to follow other stores nTC by opening on Thanksgiving Day -- the No. 1 family holiday, instead of being a leader and taking a stand for family time together. We sincerely hope you will change your mind and close the stores on that day."

The letter was signed by nearly 90 employees. Good for them. "Changing lifestyles" is a lame excuse. Loyal Giant customers respected the chain's decision to close on Thanksgiving. Now there's one less thing to set Giant apart from the rest.

Let's talk about Miles

Stephen L. Miles -- he's just so sassy. He's just so GQ smooth, with the TV commercials, the "Let's Talk About It" rap, and a legal empire that stretches from the rocky gorges of Glen Burnie to the high plains of White Marsh.

Last month, he tried his hand at stand-up comedy. The day of his club debut, Miles had coffee with Marty Bass and Don Scott on Channel 13's morning show. Among the many watching and listening was Carl Passen. Passen tells me that, when asked for a joke, Miles told about happening upon a gay bar in Rehoboth Beach.

"I looked around and said to myself, 'What's wrong with this picture?' " Passen quotes Miles. "When I looked around I saw there were 200 men in the bar and no women. . . . None of the men were drinking beer; they all had pina coladas with umbrellas sticking out of them."

Sounds like Miles was doing a really bad Howard Stern. Bass and Scott rolled their eyes and quickly wrapped up the segment with the lawyer. What Miles said wasn't a joke so much as a sophomoric and hackneyed observation. Jokes about gays, like jokes about someone's race or ethnic origin, are offensive. Not politically incorrect. Offensive.

Passen, who is gay, wasn't satisfied to just snap the TV off. He wrote to WJZ executives, as well as Miles. Miles wrote back, and, instead of offering to "talk about it," his snippy response to Passen went like this: "Lighten up. There is nothing offensive about my statement and I apologize for nothing. You know nothing about me nor my background with the gay community and, quite frankly, get a life."

Yo, Steve, you want to be a comedian, fine. Take the laughs, take the heat.

Make jokes about what people do, not what they are. And try

being funny.

Standing corrected

Contrary to what this pundit reported here Monday, Peter Angelos, Baltimore attorney and Orioles owner, has not "encouraged" American Joe Miedusiewski to run for governor.

"I think the world of the guy, he's done an excellent job representing his district as a state senator," Angelos says. "But I have played no part in influencing him to run."

In fact, Angelos says he hasn't played much of any part in the 1994 governor's race yet, and he made a point of saying he's not part of any effort to convince more candidates to join the present field of Democratic contenders. So much for punditry.

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