Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 02, 2007

Hospital ship brings comfort to so many

I object to The Sun's coverage this week of the USNS Comfort's humanitarian assistance and training mission to Latin America this summer ("Symbol of Hope," Oct. 28-29).

The USNS Comfort provided health care and training to approximately 100,000 of the most impoverished people in the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Admittedly, this effort was constrained by limits of both time and U.S. taxpayer dollars, which were used judiciously to help others and to provide our military personnel and civilian organizations experience in delivering humanitarian assistance.

Constrained by limited resources, we tailored the available services to meet maximum need in minimum time.

We extended our hand in friendship and cooperation.

The accomplishments of this mission speak for themselves: Thousands of people who were functionally or totally blind can now see; children who were condemned to a crippled existence are now able to walk and run; supplies of fresh water were restored for thousands; animals which are the livelihood of many are more healthy and will sustain families for years to come.

This is the mission I observed this summer.

It's too bad that readers of The Sun experienced a different mission than the positive, life-changing one thousands of our neighbors to the south benefited from this summer.

James W. Stevenson Jr.

Mayport, Fla.

The writer is a rear admiral and commander of U.S. Naval Forces, Southern Command.

Series sells short generosity of spirit

I found reporter Robert Little's articles on the voyage of the hospital ship USNS Comfort to Latin America and the Caribbean misleading ("Symbol of Hope," Oct. 28-29).

I was Comfort's captain during the mission, and was responsible for the 70-member crew that operated and navigated the ship. I found it to be one of the most touching and spectacular deployments of my 32-year career at sea.

This uplifting mission was marked by positive emotion and energy for the good works we performed. Comfort's leadership and crew of mariners, doctors, nurses, technicians, Seabees and members of nongovernmental organizations performed in a manner that would make any American proud.

The results - more than 98,000 patients treated - speak for themselves.

Despite all of this, Mr. Little diminishes these works by treating the whole mission as a photo op.

His articles sell short the work ethic and generous spirit that are the hallmark of Americans everywhere and marginalize the positive impact Comfort's mission had on tens of thousands of people.

I am profoundly proud of the work done by the ship, its leadership and its crew.

Capt. Ed Nanartowich

Williamsburg, Va.

Leaving children big bill for Iraq war

The Sun's otherwise excellent editorial notebook on the meaning of the $2.4 trillion cost estimate for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ("Numb-er," Oct. 27) omitted one key point: We are sending most of the bill for these wars to our children and grandchildren.

Historically, Americans have paid special taxes to finance every major war since the Civil War - in the belief that if something is worth fighting for, it is worth paying for.

The chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. David R. Obey, recently proposed an Iraq war surtax ("Democrats pass compromise war bill," Oct. 3). But President Bush and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposed the idea in a race to avoid being the messenger of responsibility.

Whether or not one supports the wars, it's unconscionable to saddle future generations with paying a mountain of debt for our generation's battles.

Other than families whose loved ones have had to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan, most Americans have borne little of the cost of these wars.

It's time that we did.

Andrew D. Freeman

Baltimore

Reporting on Gaza betrays a real bias

Why is it that the world has no problem reporting that Israel will be reducing its shipments of energy to Gaza in response to Hamas' rocket barrage into Israel ("Fuel shipments to Gaza curtailed," Oct. 29) but there is little or no mention in the press of the rocket barrages themselves?

If that is not an indication of anti-Israel bias, it is an indication of the corrupt nature of journalism in general.

William Griner

Baltimore

Slots issue a matter of personal freedom

Amid all the bantering over slots, we have completely lost sight of the true issue at stake here - personal freedom ("Slots referendum call renews debate," Oct. 28).

The decision about whether to gamble properly belongs to the individual, not the state.

Slots detractors will cry about gambling's negative effects on the community.

But if they are going to ban slots because of their negative effects, perhaps they should add to the list of things they would ban.

Alcohol and tobacco would have to be at the top of the list, given their potentially addictive nature and the huge numbers of deaths attributed to those substances.

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