Firefighters and troopers saved lives in tower fire and...


February 13, 1999

Firefighters and troopers saved lives in tower fire and face risks every day

All of us who live and work in Maryland should take a moment to thank those who daily put their lives on the line for their neighbor. Firefighters and law enforcement officers are often the unsung heroes of daily events that can affect our lives or the lives of family members. Each and every day these public servants are responsible for saving a life somewhere in Maryland.

The extraordinary effort recently performed by hundreds of emergency service workers during a downtown Baltimore high-rise building fire illustrates how significant an impact they can have on the quality of life. These rescue personnel will say they were simply doing their job. But I can assure you that residents of Charles Center Towers think otherwise. By all accounts, due to the action of the Baltimore City Fire Department, as well as others involved in the evacuation and rescue operations, hundreds of lives were saved.

Your recent editorial praised the scores of firefighters who dealt quite professionally with this potential disaster. It did not specifically mention the bravery of the Maryland State Police helicopter crews who flew four teams of specially trained firefighters into the smoke-filled skies over Baltimore. While pilots skillfully maneuvered in near-zero visibility, the flight paramedics lowered the firefighters onto the roof of the burning building, where they rescued dozens of people.

The conditions our crews endured were so perilous that at one point they had to be directed back into clear visibility by Roy Taylor, the pilot of the WJZ-TV news helicopter.

In addition to the countless brave firefighters, my appreciation goes to Tfc. Mike DeRuggerio, Tfc. Phillip Scott, David Delesio, Tfc. Carl Hardcastle and Roy Taylor. They all deserve our thanks.

David B. Mitchell


The writer is superintendent of the Maryland State Police.

Lippman is on the mark depicting war generation

I agree with much of Theo Lippman's review of Tom Brokaw's book, "The Greatest Generation."

Perhaps a good review could also have been written by Gore Vidal, who served in that war and often mentions that he never heard a patriotic word from a fellow serviceman at that time.

Mr. Lippman reminds us that seven out of eight of those who served were draftees. I can remember one obnoxious fellow sailor expressing the patriotism of his home state of Tennessee.

When I finally became sick of this, I mentioned that I was from New York, the Empire State, then asked him what his state was called.

He proudly put out his chest and said, "The Volunteer State, of course." I then asked, "How come you are a draftee?"

Much of the disinformation about that war can be attributed to our government and the news and entertainment media. The patriotic movies were greeted with derision by the servicemen, mainly because the actors were draft dodgers, like John Wayne, or people who used other methods to not serve. Wayne would later admit that not having taken ROTC in college, he could not get an officer's commission. He added, "Consequently, there was no way that I would ever be a GI Joe."

One movie, "Gung Ho," was greeted with so many cat calls by the viewing GIs that the phrase has now been added to the American lexicon.

Mr. Lippman was right on target in describing much of the civilian attitude on the home front. The war ended the Great Depression, putting some 16 million men into our forces, which easily replaced the 13 million unemployed. Many of those newly employed said they hoped the war would never end.

I doubt that Mr. Brokaw wrote of the riots in Europe after VE Day, by GIs who did not want to be transferred to the Pacific Theater to fight Japan.

I do not write this to demean my comrades who died in that terrible war, but the whole story should be told much more honestly and accurately than the drivel we have been seeing and reading for six decades.

Stephen Block

West Palm Beach, Fla.

Yahoo! Selling city's name would help pay our bills

The lack of judges and prosecutors, the public education system and the crumbling underground infrastructure are all signs of the need for more public money.

We have a nontax fountain of money right in front of us that has only begun to be tapped; that is, selling public names of things as we did with PSINet Stadium.

I submit that if we can forget the name Memorial Stadium, which reminded us of the thousands of soldiers who died 60 years ago to save us from fascism. We can certainly let go of the name Baltimore, which is the name of some old English guy -- and who knows what he did?

We can sell the name of the city, the Inner Harbor, streets, schools -- you name it.

Internet companies have millions of dollars they need to spend, and they are the ones who understand the business value of this new advertising paradigm. How about, "Welcome to Yahooville, Hon!" or, more sedately, "Welcome to Netscape's Inner Harbor!"

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