Veterans losing their dueThe guns finally fell silent at...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

November 06, 1999

Veterans losing their due

The guns finally fell silent at 11 a.m., Nov. 11, 1918, but not before a generation of European men was slaughtered. Although our nation's involvement was shorter than other countries', the "war to end all wars" left a painful mark on our people and culture.

World War I touched most of the families in my hometown of Milwaukee. While many people knew of a doughboy who had made the ultimate sacrifice, everyone could see how the war ravaged those who did return.

The usual way to describe veterans forever unnerved by combat experience was, "and after that, he was never quite right." My wife remembers hearing that said of her bachelor uncle; he and his captain were the only survivors from their entire company.

As a youngster, I remember that on the "the 11th day of the 11th month," factory whistles blew at 11 a.m. Everything ceased.

Pedestrians stopped, faced east and put their right hands over their hearts. People in cars pulled over and did the same. The policeman directing traffic came to attention and saluted.

For a few moments, there was a deafening silence.

As a youngster, I remember that on the "the 11th day of the 11th month," factory whistles blew at 11 a.m. Everything ceased. However, a new generation soon came along that had no first-hand knowledge of what the veterans had suffered. Worse, it did not want to even hear about it.

I witnessed the change in attitude. My father was in the funeral business, and I helped out. Frequently, he and I were the sole mourners for a veteran found dead on skid row who never got over the mind-crippling horrors he went through in France.

Many were the times I pinned his Purple Heart, and occasionally a Croix de Guerre, on such a forgotten man in his casket.

The world ignored the man. His family had been ashamed of him and too self-centered to see that he was properly cared for.

Yet, what would the world be like today if that man, and the other veterans from World War I and veterans of each of our wars had never lived?

Arthur J. Brett Mount Airy

A day to say thanks to those who served

Thanksgiving is the day in November that most people look forward to celebrating. But people should also look forward to celebrating Veterans Day on Nov. 11. It is an ideal time to thank those who have served in our armed forces and especially our World War II veterans.

It's also a good time to make a donation to help build the World War II Memorial: the long-overdue tribute to the soldiers, sailors and airmen who bravely fought against fascism; to the "Rosie the Riveters" on the home front who contributed to the war effort; and to the high moral purpose that motivated America to become what President Franklin Roosevelt called the "arsenal of democracy."

World War II was the largest war in history and the defining event of the 20th century. Never before or since has the United States shared such a common purpose and determination.

On May 25, 1993, President Clinton signed a law authorizing the American Battle Monuments Commission to establish the World War II Memorial. The memorial will be on the National Mall in Washington, between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

Primary funding for the $100 million memorial must be raised from private contributions.

We need to constantly thank veterans who served in Bosnia, Kuwait Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea and other places.

But time is running out to honor the World War II generations.

A donation to the World War II memorial is one small way to thank them for their service to America and to freedom.

Granson Eckel Cambridge

Keeping good teachers

One partial solution to the current teacher shortage is to keep veteran teachers as long as possible.

Many counties now rehire retired teachers -- and pay them their regular salary, plus their pensions.

Had they made the veteran teachers feel more needed, they might not have left in the first place, saving taxpayers millions.

Here are some suggestions for retaining veteran teachers: First, make them feel wanted. For years, when there was no teacher shortage, school districts have encouraged veteran teachers to retire.

And among school administrators, the mentality still persists those who are still teaching in their fifties are mediocre at best, because they haven't moved into administration.

Second, return teachers' seniority rights. This is a trivial matter for everyone except veteran teachers, who feel they should have preference in staying at their school or being transferred elsewhere. At present, veteran teachers get no preference.

Third, recognize that veteran teachers have mastered their skills and should not be treated like third-year teachers when it comes to classroom observations and evaluations.

The whole process of observations is highly subjective and is often used as a weapon by principals to keep teachers on board whatever educational bandwagon comes through.

Veteran teachers have seen these dog-and-pony shows and know that what goes on in the classroom is what's important.

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