Question of the Month Mayor Martin O'Malley recently...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

February 02, 2002

Question of the Month

Mayor Martin O'Malley recently announced plans for the city to take over about 5,000 of the tens of thousands of vacant properties that blight many Baltimore neighborhoods.

What do you think the city should do with its abandoned properties?

We are looking for 300 words or less; the deadline is Feb. 18. Letters become the property of The Sun, which reserves the right to edit them. By submitting a letter, the author grants The Sun an irrevocable, non-exclusive right and license to use and republish the letter, in whole or in part, in all media and to authorize others to reprint it.

Letters should include your name and address, along with a day and evening telephone number. E-mail us: letters@baltsun.com; write us: Letters to the Editor, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278-0001; fax us: 410-332-6977.

War against terror cannot be avoided

As a former Marine and Persian Gulf war veteran, I was thoroughly appalled at some of the letters The Sun received in response to the question about whether readers favor military action against countries that support terrorism ("Killing produces only more killing," letters, Jan. 26).

Suggestions such as that we stop involving ourselves in police actions because they will anger more people and result in more terror attacks are, in a word, preposterous.

I am not advocating that we attack anyone and everyone, but the war in Afghanistan is necessary to fight terrorism and make an example of the Taliban.

To allow the criminals who planned and backed the events of Sept. 11 to go unpunished would be ridiculous. While turning the other cheek is sometimes effective, we have to be careful that it does not cause us to get slapped in the face again.

The fight in Afghanistan has cost many lives, both ours and theirs. Indeed, I recently attended the funeral of Staff Sgt. Walter F. "Trae" Cohee III. He gave his life to help stop terrorism.

The sacrifice he made, along with those of many others over time, is the reason we have the right to express our opinions.

Each of us has the right to express an opinion. However let's take a minute to ponder this thought: Could our reaction to the Sept. 11 attacks prevent them from happening again?

If there is even a remote chance the answer is yes, then we must continue.

If you disagree, then maybe you should imagine you got that fateful call on Sept. 11 telling you a member of your family was dead.

Bill Hedrick, Salisbury

Bad school generates anxiety

After reading the recent spate of letters and articles about Northern High School, I was reminded of my friend's plight and her sense of helplessness about the situation in which she found herself.

My dear friend and colleague lives in a nice neighborhood in Gardenville - the kind of neighborhood where residents clean each other's snowy driveways when they have an extra shovel or some extra time and a wave comes as naturally as a smile.

She is a single mom, raising her only child as conscientiously as any couple could. Year after year, her daughter developed into a more beautiful, spiritual and talented young woman.

Then came eighth grade, and the panic began. The daughter was in the Northern High district. Even from the outside, the school looked rough. The news coming from the school spoke of rapes and disobedience, poker games and drugs, danger and educational mayhem. How could she send her daughter there, undoing everything she had worked to instill for the previous 14 years?

Thus began her search for alternatives - a search that grew more desperate as the year wore on.

She considered using a fake address, but was told school districts are now looking carefully at such fraud.

She researched several religious schools, but did not find anything that fit her beliefs or had a stable curriculum and staff.

Catholic schools were filled to the brim and turning away good applicants. Other private schools were well out of her salary range.

Sometimes in that awful year she would cry to me in an agony of desperation: "What can I do? I can't send my baby to that place!"

At long last, in the final hour, she secured a place for her daughter at City College High School, where her daughter is now doing very well and heading for college.

But I wonder how many of the happy endings like hers are offset by the mothers who stand helplessly by as their children walk through the front doors of Northern High School every day.

Catherine Shoup, Baltimore

Giving smallpox to monkeys might unleash deadly disease

One needn't be a Luddite to recognize an idiot - and the government scientists gloating in The Sun's front-page article "Breakthrough in research with smallpox" (Jan. 26) over their ability to infect monkeys with smallpox are idiots of the worst sort.

The existence of this abhorrent research undermines the moral underpinnings and credibility of our country's war on terrorism.

For those who've never witnessed smallpox in the raw, as I and many of my colleagues have, this must seem the quibbling concern of a fuzzy-minded moralist.

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