Courier-Gazette Letters to the Editor, Nov. 2

Nov 02, 2017

Thank you, Sen. Collins

While watching President Trump’s impromptu news conference last Monday, I was reminded how thankful I am that Susan Collins has decided to remain in the Senate. Even though I don’t always agree with her positions, I am confident that she has been thoughtful and principled in her decision-making.

By contrast, our president’s arrogance, willful ignorance and gift for self-absorbed blather were on full display during his performance before the cameras. We can only hope that Sen. Collins will continue to protect us from some of the more harmful elements of the Republican legislative agenda, as well as the worst impulses of an all-too-reckless president.

Steve Mansfield

Warren

Reponse to Gen. Kelly

I’m a great admirer of Gen. John Kelly and I thought his defense of Trump’s phone call to the wife of the soldier killed in Niger exemplified his great strength of character and honor and I can easily imagine what a terrific combat leader he must be. However, he was wrong, As clear and concise as his defense was, he was wrong.

By way of explaining why he was ‘stunned’ by the Cong. Wilson’s having revealed the content of Trump’s private call to Pvt. Johnson’s widow, Kelly cited the loss of things we once held dear when he (and I) were children. The first of these was respect for women. I don’t know that our regard for women was any greater then than it is now, but I do know that one place that disrespect is and has been most profoundly on display is in the White House at the hands, quite literally, of Kelly’s own boss.

The second was for life and again, I don’t know that our regard for life is any less now than it was then, but certainly this president’s regard for the lives of people around the globe who are desperately seeking only the barest elements of that precious gift is nonexistent.

The third was for Gold Star families, families who have lost sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters in service to our country. Kelly lamented that even that was no longer sacrosanct. In this case he may be right, but who has better shown that disrespect than Trump himself when he slandered the Khan family and the loss of their son who was killed in action in Afghanistan in service to our country? Kelly is a great man and a worthy soldier. So what is he doing in service to this man who is the antithesis of everything he so proudly stands for? I am completely baffled.

Finally, Kelly alluded to the unquestionable nobility, bravery and honor of every one of the men and women who serve in the military defending our country, young people who volunteered to give their lives to defend our freedoms when there was no demand that they do so. He’s wrong in this instance, too. Many of those people are possessed of precisely those qualities, but not all by any stretch. Many, while not drafted, are certainly being actively recruited and find the military offers them what they can’t find elsewhere in America: a steady income, security and respect.

I joined the military in 1964. I was not driven to do so by even a shred of patriotism. I joined because I didn’t know what to do with myself at that age and was a lost soul. I didn’t go to Vietnam to defend my country. I went because by then I was in and had to do what I was told. None of the guys in my outfit with whom I was close, a dozen or so, were there because they were willing to give their lives for their country. They had no idea what we were doing in Vietnam and were only there because they had to obey orders.

As Kelly said, there are a great many brave young people who do, in fact, more than self their country love but I’ll bet their presence in conflicts all over the globe is as big a mystery to many of them as mine and my buddies' were to us. We were not heroes. We did not know what we were signing up for.

Phil Crossman

Vinalhaven

A surprise reunion

My friend Kathleen invited me to go with her to the Thomaston Public Library to a tea on the afternoon of Oct. 20. I had been having a tough time with asthma and wasn't sure I would be able to go. When she arrived at my apartment I wasn't doing well at all and suggested that we have tea there instead. She wasn’t interested in doing so; therefore, I pushed myself to go to the tea with her, thinking that I wouldn't last for more than a half-hour.

Shortly after we got there, Kathleen introduced me to her friend, Barbara. I then sat down and greeted other people. I kept looking back at Barbara, amazed at how much she resembled my childhood friend Barbara from my teen years in Bridgeport, Conn. I even said to her, "You look so much like my childhood friend; her name was Barbara also."

A few minutes later, the woman sitting next to me detected my accent and asked 'Where are you from?" I answered, "Sandy Hook, Conn." That's when Barbara piped up and said, "I'm from Monroe , Conn." (Monroe is right next to Sandy Hook). Then Barbara asked me, "Did you ever live in Bridgeport, Conn.?" "Yes, I was born there," I answered.

"Are you Bette-Jean Mastroni?" she asked. I jumped up out of my chair and hurried over to her and hugged her, crying the whole time. We had not seen each other in 58 years. Several people at the event came closer to partake in the joyous occasion. I think I even heard some applause. Barbara is now living in Rockport, not far from where I live in Thomaston. She told me that she has seen me on TV several times, but had no idea of how to get in touch with me. She said she doesn't have a computer, but tried to have a friend look for me, which her friend did unsuccessfully. We talked and reminisced, reveling all afternoon in the novelty of our surprise reunion, and we plan to get together soon.

B.J. Peres

Thomaston

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