Black veterans were Civil War heroesThe Sept. 9 article...

Letters

September 19, 1996

Black veterans were Civil War heroes

The Sept. 9 article, ''Righting a historic wrong,'' on the 179,000 black volunteers who fought in the Civil War was timely and interesting.

Most people are unaware that 17 black soldiers and 4 black sailors won the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Civil War. One was a Baltimore native, Sgt. Maj. Christian A. Fleetwood. He received his citation for heroism in the Battle of Chapins Farm, Virginia.

He was the son of black free parents and educated in the home of a wealthy sugar merchant. Subsequently, he went to the Ashmun Institute (later Lincoln University) at Oxford, Pa.

Joseph M. Miller

Timonium

Assaulted professor shows no bitterness

A year ago, I had the privilege of meeting Ali Reza, the young physics professor from Bangladesh, who was brutalized in his Govans apartment in 1990 and who was the topic of your Sept. 13 article.

As the horror of his story unfolded during my nursing visits with him, I had to struggle to keep my own emotions in check, so great were my feelings of empathy for this unfortunate man.

His gentle spirit, ever-present smile and calm acceptance of his shattered life taught me a lot about his resilence, great inner strength and determination to move ahead despite incredible losses in his life.

He never expressed anger or bitterness for the unknown assailant who robbed him of a bright, promising future in neurophysiology. Nor did he ever engage in a self pity or in thought of what might have been.

Instead of talking about deportation, we should embrace this man who honors us all by even wanting to become an American citizen. Ali Reza demonstrates daily those very qualities we would like to think as part of the "American spirit" -- self-determination, tenacity and an unfailing will to make a life for himself.

Whatever the cost of his rehabilitation, no dollar amount can ever repay what is owed him.

Linda Terlizzi

Baltimore

Aid to religious schools is unconstitutional

Mary Ellen Russell's plea for tax aid for parochial schools (letter, Sept. 3) overlooked several important considerations.

Tax-paid vouchers for denominational schools are unconstitutional. In the 1973 Nyquist ruling, the Supreme Court recognized that routing tax dollars to church schools through parents is a subterfuge that will not stand constitutional scrutiny.

Catholic and some other private schools may have lower per student costs, but that is due to their paying their teachers less, to their not needing to provide for special-needs children, and their offering less rich curricula to students.

If tax aid is given to Catholic schools it will also have to be given to fundamentalist schools which often promote bigotry against Catholics, as studies of fundamentalist school textbooks have shown.

Voucher aid to Catholic and other private schools would mean that all taxpayers would have to pay for sectarian indoctrination, for the fragmentation of children along religious lines (we have enough Bosnias and Northern Irelands already), for schools not under the control of public school boards that do not have to play by the same rules as public schools.

Maryland voters defeated parochial school aid proposals at the polls in 1972 and 1974, just as voters in other states from coast to coast have done since then by an average margin of 2 to 1.

We, the people of Maryland, offer quality public education to all children. Parents who choose to separate their children from their public school age-mates have no claim on the public treasury.

Edd Doerr

Silver Spring

The writer is executive director of Americans for Religious Liberty.

Are drugs being legalized here?

Since Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier indicated during a news conference that he came from an area (San Jose, Calif.) where citations and fines were given for drug offenses, we must be concerned whether ''zero tolerance'' will become an excuse for Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's preferred policy of drug legalization.

If citations are to be used for drug offenses, the recent Office of National Drug Policy Report declared a number of states report that drug users are an aging population, except for ''Baltimore, which is the only city that had a continuing rise in new users.''

''Zero tolerance'' will not, hopefully, be used to decriminalize drugs -- the primary cause for many crimes.

Marshall M. Meyer

Baltimore

Air bags can be made even safer

The risk of injury or death associated with air bags in vehicles has received a great deal of attention of late from the media, the government and the public. Air bags are a proven technology credited, by government count, with saving some 1,500 lives since the late 1980s.

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