Don't denigrate shop supporting `Constellation...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 04, 2002

Don't denigrate shop supporting `Constellation'

Although no masterpiece of the architectural arts, the building that supports the USS Constellation Museum serves as infinitely more than a dispensary for "trinkets and multiflavored cones" ("... not another ice cream stand," editorial, June 17). This is abundantly clear to those who visit the museum and walk through the galleries before boarding the vessel.

And, regardless of its aesthetic value, the USS Constellation Museum's building does not deserve to be denigrated as a glorified souvenir kiosk, especially when the vast majority of its interior is dedicated to preserving the interpreting artifacts related to the ship, as well as advancing the vessel's ongoing restoration.

While the museum does run a bookstore and small ice cream stand, such things are necessary to raise the resources needed to fund the continuing maintenance and restoration of the ship.

Projects such as the recently restored captain's cabin, so wonderfully covered by Scott Calvert in The Sun ("Returning a ship to its glory," April 30) are not possible without this type of support.

And I challenge The Sun to find a museum or attraction in the Inner Harbor that does not offer similar services.

Christopher Rowsom

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the USS Constellation Museum.

Judges overreach on death penalty

What a travesty is the Supreme Court ruling that executing the mentally retarded is unconstitutional ("Justices ban execution of the retarded," June 21). This is just the latest manifestation of deviant behavior in the judicial branch.

The Sun report said the ruling drew on public opinion polls and cited the 30 states that, one way or another, have banned such executions.

But judges and justices are supposed to maintain the rule of law by being completely objective about the letter of the law. They are not to usurp the power, vested mostly in state legislatures, to make law.

The judicial question should be, "What is the law?" not, "What do I think the law should be?"

Vincent Ciletti

Baltimore

Separation concerns power, not words

The decision of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reject the phrase "one nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is another example of special-interest groups using modern interpretation of the Constitution to suit individual needs ("Court rejects `one nation under God,' " June 27).

The people who founded this country fled their European homes in search of freedom -- freedom from persecution because of their religious beliefs.

And the Constitution was written more than 200 years ago, in a world that was much different from the world in which we live today. The concept of "separation of church and state" has nothing to do with the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance or the words "In God We Trust" on our currency.

It is related to the influence that the church had on politics and that politics had on the church in Europe during the days of the Holy Roman Empire and through the 18th century.

Douglas Champaigne

Catonsville

Deleting God allows everyone to pledge

Does action "under God" derive from a higher authority than action taken based on a nonreligious philosophical concept that espouses the same morality and conduct as that ascribed to the will of a deity?

This question could be debated ad infinitum without a conclusion acceptable to believers and nonbelievers.

But eliminating "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance in a public forum would not diminish the solemnity of the pledge by believers, and would allow nonbelievers to feel comfortable that such allegiance is expressed without fear the government is advocating or supporting religion.

Wilfred Romanoff

Baltimore

I would like to participate fully in the Pledge of Allegiance. Removing the "under God" part would allow all patriotic Americans to pledge our allegiance together.

Shelley Trazkovich

Reisterstown

`Family Ties' and misty eyes

It takes a lot to make me cry. But The Sun's article about the summer camp for foster siblings ("Family Ties," June 25) clouded my vision.

McNair Taylor

Baltimore

Eastern High offered academic foundation

As a member of the class of 1951, I resent the remarks suggesting that Eastern High School's graduates from that time had no hopes of entering professional careers and that our parents discouraged higher education ("Alumnae remember the old Eastern High," June 23).

On the contrary, Eastern's curriculum was weighted heavily toward science, math and foreign languages as well as music, art and theater. Teachers encouraged a strong academic background as a foundation for those who wished to further their studies.

Although many of the girls did choose a commercial course, others obtained not only bachelor's degrees but master's and doctorates.

Our teachers at Eastern truly believed that the female mind was worthy of a broad, mind-stretching education -- one that encouraged our curiosity, stressed altruism and offered us the wherewithal to face any challenge.

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