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A soldier says thanks

My name is Jennifer Riley. I am a Senior Airman in the United States Air Force, and I have been in for a little over three years now. I am a graduate of South Medford High School, class of 2001.

I was reading an article on Shad Thomas and how he is in Iraq dodging bullets from enemy fire. I went to junior high school with Shad and, like many others in our graduating class, I also joined the armed forces right after high school.

I am proud to be serving for my country; I have not yet been to Iraq though I am currently deployed to the United Arab Emirates on the Persian Gulf. I come home on Sept. 19, and I don't know when I am supposed to leave for Iraq. For my job, I will be on the front lines since I drive convoys during war time.

I was hoping that you could print this letter thanking the people for all of their support and prayers during this time of war. It really makes it easier for us to be over here when we know that we have people back in the states praying for us and eagerly waiting for us to come home. Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart!

We are thinking about you all too and look forward to coming home soon! God bless each and every one of you!

I'd like to send a special thank you to Andrea Brock, who is the choir director at South Medford High School. Thanks for always believing in me and being such a great teacher and a great person. You are the reason that I am going to be a choir teacher when I get out of the military! ' Jennifer E. Riley, vehicle operator-dispatcher, United States Air Force

Doesn't want Kerry

As a veteran, I cannot understand any veteran even thinking of voting for John Kerry, after all the atrocities that he has accused his fellow servicemen of committing. Had I or any other serviceman dragged his weapon the way Mr. Kerry does in his commercials, we wouldn't have been able to sit down for a week. Were I still in the service, I sure wouldn't want this man for my commander-in-chief. ' C. Moore, Ashland

Service deserves respect

In response to a recent letter, what gives her the right to determine what is an appropriate time to justify a man's service to his country?

Does she feel the same about soldiers that were only in war a few weeks or days but came home without arms, legs, mentally off-balance or dead?

Is the only way in her mind to justify service to one's country is coming home in a casket?

I find the criticism of John Kerry's war record an embarrassment to the freedoms our country stands for. It doesn't matter what length of time a person serves in a war, he or she deserves our respect.

We have no right to criticize unless we have walked a mile in their shoes. I feel strongly about this even though I am a devout disbeliever in war. ' Donna Thomas, Talent

Can't re-elect Wyden

When we, as most Oregonians will, cast our votes to constitutionally protect marriage, we must ask ourselves, Will this really do what we want it to do?

While it will in the short term, we cannot re-elect the likes of Ron Wyden and expect our state laws to be adequate. Sen. Wyden is actively willing to let nine unelected judges cram down our throats their version of social standards. Given their wildly fluctuating rulings of recent years, how can any concerned citizen trust them?

Should a constitutional amendment pass Congress, the states will then get to decide whether to ratify it. Give the people the chance to choose for themselves the basis of our society. Notice how liberals demand choice, unless of course, the choice is other than theirs. ' Jerry Ross, Grants Pass

A simple question

Sen. Kerry's Purple Hearts. Swift boats. Christmas 1968 in Cambodia? America is focused on events more than 30 years old. But the more recent years are far more important for this nation as the presidential election nears.

One analysis of historical voting records listed John Kerry as the U.S. Senate's No.1 liberal, and his running mate, Sen. Edwards, as the Senate's No. 4 liberal. That presents voters with a simple question ' do you want a president and vice president who represent the extreme left-wing fringe of American politics? I certainly don't.

As a young, Democratic college student in Boston in the early 1960s, I was among the cheering crowd who listened to Sen.-elect Ted Kennedy's first victory speech. Today Sen. Kennedy represents the extreme liberalism that led me to flee the Democratic party.

Sens. Kerry and Edwards are likely to take us even farther left. Vote wisely. ' Jim Feeney, Medford

The international disease

I suspect that Bush will be re-elected. If not, I strongly suspect that Kerry will be. (I have some inside information which I am not allowed to disclose at this time. All I can tell you is that one of these men will be elected.)

The polls have proven that Bush and Kerry are ahead of each other,but it isn't a runaway yet. It is quite likely that one of them is going to win and the other lose.

The winner will understand that the business of America is business, but will never allow himself to believe that the failure of America is greed and corruption ' the international disease. Well, perhaps I'm not being fair, but then again, isn't it that the loser keeps his money, and the winner has to pay off those who bet the most money on him?

Until D.C. does a comprehensive study of today's democracy and socialism, capitalism will continue to serve the wealthy elite ' regardless of how much more of our land, businesses and pride they sell to outside interests.

America still has the most reasonable system, if we can keep it and stop making economic war on ourselves. ' F.C. Mequish, Medford

Think a little more

In response to Jamila Elliott's letter of Aug. 27, She does sound intelligent and well-informed, and I am happy to see young people with such an interest in the important task of selecting those who will lead our country. I have a daughter her age and she never ceases to impress me with her knowledge and understanding of current events.

However, I hope Jamila doesn't make the mistake of passing judgment on my generation as jaded and morally bankrupt until she has done some more research. About 20 years more research. I was very idealistic at her age, too, and so morally superior to my parents. But as I've grown through the years I've had to say, Dad, you were right more times than I can count.

Corporations are neither good nor evil. They function for their own benefit. That's what they are supposed to do.

And yes, we have to have some controls on them. But do some more research. Socialism never works.

You can have a heart and vote your own bank account. You will learn no one else will watch out for you but you. Think a little more before you vote. ' Michael Patnesky, Gold Hill

Editorial illogical

MT's Kindergarten should be for all, is illogical and contradictory.

Our taxes fund public universities, then individuals subsidize them with tuition. Your logic indicates if everyone cannot afford to pay, no one should have the opportunity, therefore being fair and equal for all.

Does that mean since everyone can't afford tuition, college should be abolished for equality's sake? If we continue that logic, our higher education system is unfair, so we should eradicate it. Imagine, a nation of equal mediocrity for all!

Your assertion that this pilot program shouldn't be tried since not all schools are offering it disregards the fact that Title I schools already offer all-day kindergarten. So should we take that away from those schools since Griffin Creek isn't Title I and therefore cannot have it? By Griffin Creek not being allowed to offer all-day kindergarten, I'm not being offered an equal opportunity as those in Title I schools. This is blatant reverse discrimination.

Further, if pay-to-play sports programs work, why not kindergarten and music programs too? Perhaps a more positive solution would be to set up a scholarship fund for those whose parents cannot pay; citizens could contribute to the fund so all kids could participate. ' L. Burt, Medford

They should be ashamed

I find myself both angered and disgusted by the attempts of some Republican supporters to undermine Sen. Kerry by attacking his war record. The history, lack of credibility and consistency of this smear campaign have been analyzed by several responsible journalists. It is a campaign that was organized by a retired admiral, who was officially censured for his actions in Vietnam. It is an underhanded, deceitful effort. They should be ashamed!

This deplorable effort has been criticized by Sen. McCain. However, as of this writing, President Bush has not disavowed these ads, as he should.

I hope all patriotic Americans will ignore such smear tactics and decide their vote on the real issues before us, however you see them. America deserves better than an election decided by unfounded and noncredible smears. Let's seek common ground in facing the major issues before us in the way the 9/11 Commission did. ' Robert John Scheelen, Medford

Learned from experience

I served in the Air Force from 1965-1969. Although I did not go to Vietnam, like most soldiers, I supported the war. At Hickam Air Force Base, while C-141 transport planes refueled for the long flight to Vietnam, I watched platoons of young soldiers quickstep on the tarmac chanting We are going to Vietnam to kill VC (Viet Cong) to kill VC... At the same time wounded soldiers with the red mud of Vietnam still on their boots were being unloaded.

Despite the agony of these sights, I believed the cause was worth the sacrifice. After my release from active duty in 1969, I came to believe the Vietnam War was wrong and joined the protest movement. So like John Kerry, I lived through both sides of the Vietnam controversy. I want a president who can learn from his experiences and is willing to act to correct a bad policy. ' Paul B. Robinson, Medford

Vote Kerry for clean air

All you folks who want to see that the Rogue Valley's air remains at least as clean as it now is ' with a chance for improvement by supporting fuel efficiency measures ' should vote for John Kerry for president.

Kerry is on our side on these issues and also champions legislation supporting the Endangered Species Act and public lands protection.

He supports the Superfund Act's Polluter Pays trust fund to clean up hazardous waste sites. He has favored reduction in our dependence on oil and supports measures to increase clean, renewable energy

He opposed the Bush administration's attempts to weaken the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. Kerry would work to reestablish the United States as a world leader on environmental policy.

Please vote for John Kerry. ' Myra Erwin, Ashland

Apologies needed

I heard a disturbing news bite today. They were quoting Dick Cheney as saying, He questioned whether John Kerry had actually earned any of his three Purple Hearts, and that he felt Kerry owed apologies for the anti-war comments he made back in 1971.

Hello! That's 33 years ago; we have far more pressing issues in our current political, social, and economical systems. Not only is it ignorant to question medals earned in wartime, granted by the government and superiors in the Armed Forces. But, if there are apologies being handed out, how about a very large one made by G.W. Bush to the U.N. and Americans, for misleading and misrepresenting supposed WMDs and our invasion of Iraq. Or, his misuse of our National Guard, and disregard for those who are serving, cutting benefits for their dependents, extending TODs.

Apologize for something very relevant ' not 33 years ago. ' Betty Taylor, Medford

Thanks for beach rescue

It is heartwarming to know in these uncertain times that we the (everyday) people still love and value each other. Thank you from my heart to those who helped rescue me after I broke my leg in a tidepool accident at Harris Beach on Sunday, Aug. 15. The memory of your smiling faces and tender attention to me and my 9-year-old grandson, Hunter, will be with me forever. ' Linda Castro, Medford

Think about it

One last word on the same-sex marriage controversy. I believe that everyone over the age of 21 should be able to do whatever they want, as long as it is legal.

I am against same-sex marriage, though. Marriage to me is strictly between a man and a woman.

If people of the same sex wish to live together, fine, so be it. If, on the other hand, a law is passed permitting the same sex to marry, this opens a can of worms.

What then would be wrong with a person marrying their pet? People have and love many kinds of pets. There are cats, dogs, horses, parrots and even snakes. People have left large amounts of money to their pets in their wills.

Now, what would be wrong for a person to marry their pet, and according to law, leave everything to the pet in their will? Think about it. ' Don Cramer, Medford

Medford vs. Grants Pass

I noticed in the Friday, Aug. 27 paper that Grants Pass has been listed as a top 100 small city. This reminded me of my own experience.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I faced the decision of where to retire. For a variety of reasons, we wanted to leave the Chicago area and move to the Northwest.

I was thrilled to read in Time magazine that Grants Pass was one of the three best locations in the United States in which to retire, so I made a trip out here to check it out, but fortunately also looked at all of the surrounding towns. After taking everything into consideration, Medford won hands down and we haven't regretted our decision for a moment. ' Tammy Snider, Medford

She worked

Susan Reimer (Aug. 26) wrote, During more than 50 years of marriage, she never drew a paycheck again. But for a woman who didn't work, Vi had a lot of jobs.

Maybe she wasn't employed, but you can't tell me she didn't work! With a family and all that entails: cooking, cleaning, shopping, going on errands, chauffeuring, volunteering and the myriad tasks that befall a wife, mother, grandmother, she worked! ' Maxine Scott, Ashland

A good man

Thank God there are still good men who still speak out when they see wrong or unjust reporting of documents.

Local veteran Robert E. Lambert gave his account from personal experience of the facts and willingly came out against lies with nothing to gain except to let the truth be known. He is to be commended and honored here also, as God knows his heart. ' LeRoy Bovey, Brookings

Time for a change

As the facts or real truths about the Swift boat business come forward, I am reminded of the significance in the military of accountability for what occurs under a person's watch.

A surprise attack by terrorists when there had been a heads up briefing at least one month before. A preemptive invasion of another country based on gross errors of judgment and fact regarding weapons of mass destruction and terrorist ties which led to loss of American lives, abuse of prisoners.

At home a conscious reversing of environmental rules protecting clean air, water and habitat that spells trouble for human health and sustainability of wildlife, tax relief for the wealthiest and crumbs for the middle class, mounting national debt.

The president says everything is fine. Not so. Time for a change and time to put the country under someone else's watch. Senator Kerry can and will do better. ' Steve Haskell, Ashland

Voting for Smith

As a young adult, I am just beginning to understand the importance of voting. This year, I have taken an interest in learning about the candidates and their positions. As a result, I will cast my vote for C.W. Smith in the race for county commissioner. Mr. Smith represents the values I grew up with and hope to pass on to future generations.

While I can't speak for my entire generation, I speak for many young people who are working hard to be good citizens and want to know that our community and our local government is working for us. I believe that C.W. Smith has our interests in mind. I've heard him say that one of his goals is to make sure there are good-paying jobs that will keep the young people living and working in Southern Oregon.

Thanks, Mr. Smith, for caring about our future. ' Jillian Perez, Medford

Positive info ignored

The media and local naysayers ignored the positive information in the recently released Census Bureau report, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2003.

The five years prior to 2004 saw 1999's Kosovo operations, 2000's attack on the USS Cole and the burst of the dot-com bubble; 2001's corporate accounting scandals, recession, 9/11 events and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan; and 2003's commencement of Operation Iraq Freedom.

And yet:

2003's average household total income, adjusted for inflation, was higher than 1998's.

2003's percentage of people above the poverty level was higher than 1998's.

2003's percentage of people covered by private or government health insurance was higher than 1998's.

Not only were we better off in 2003 than 1998, over 50 million people experience freedom they did not have then ' thanks to our resiliency and the contributions we and our allies have made around the world. ' Jo W. French Sr., Ashland

Blaming the neighbors

Great! Another uninformed, unresearched, blame the neighbors editorial in the Sunday, Aug. 29 Mail Tribune.

Two years ago the editors ragged on the neighbors and the Medford Planning Commission for opposing an ill-conceived and unsafe plan by the Phoenix-Talent School District to dump a quick and dirty 35-car parking lot and bus loop in the Orchard Hill neighborhood park directly behind two of the neighbors' homes. It simply did not meet Medford Land Development Code.

The resubmitted plan sailed through without opposition and is a showpiece of how to do a bus loop and parking lot ' a tasteful, well-planned win-win for everyone. The Mail Tribune never bothered to follow up on that successful outcome.

For the past 10 years we neighbors have been trying to achieve a simple win-win with the Rogue Valley Soccer Club and Medford Parks and Recreation on the overuse of the Orchard Hill neighborhood park by soccer teams. We have never objected to a fair and reasonable amount of use by those teams.

Not to worry, we will eventually get it sorted out with a win-win for everybody. Keep up the good work, guys. Check those facts. ' John H. Newell, Medford

Other creeks neglected

While reading the Aug. 27 Mail Tribune article, Bear Creek fish kill cause eludes experts, I was wondering: What the heck makes the Bear Creek fish apparently so much more important than all the other fish in other streams?

Many fish are killed each year in other local streams because the state allows irrigators to pump or otherwise divert virtually all or most of the water. I know the reason Bear Creek gets all the attention, of course! It's because Bear Creek runs through the most populous portion of the Rogue Valley.

Am I jealous because my stream (Trail Creek) doesn't get the same attention? You bet I am! Every year fish are having to be rescued from Trail Creek, and many more die which aren't rescued.

Fish kills in Trail Creek and in other creeks like it happen each year. They happen because water withdrawals exacerbate an already poor summertime condition (i.e., lack of water), and yet there is no real attention paid to the plight of Trail Creek and the other streams, even though there are probably more fish killed in other local creeks from water withdrawals than there are killed in Bear Creek. ' Fred Fleetwood, Trail

Get back to real issues

Since the mid-'80s, the GOP has focused its campaigns on non-issues. It works well for Republicans. Every week still more voters would be alienated from the Bush administration if the media headlined the real issues of the day instead of GOP-initiated non-stories.

For instance, while the focus has been how much blood Kerry shed for our country, the largest middle-class pay cut in history went into effect virtually unnoticed. Over 6 million workers lost their right to overtime pay.

Those directly affected will work longer hours for less money. Millions more will no longer benefit from overtime work because their overtime hours will go to those newly exempt from overtime protection.

It's time to get back to the real issues that matter to real Americans, like the overtime President Bush has taken away and what it will mean to those already pinched by his failed economic policies. ' Vicki Fox, Ashland

Can't tolerate Bush

Bush constantly belabors us with accusations that John Kerry flip-flops on major issues although Kerry, unlike Bush, is intelligent enough to realize that nothing is as constant as change and conditions and situations that were valid years ago are irrelevant in today's changing world.

Bush was asked if, in retrospect, he would change anything he has done in the last four years. He couldn't think of a single mistake in his actions or judgment. Does that mean if he's elected we would have four more years of lies, mis-statements and worldwide anti-American sentiment?

I'm an 87-year-old World War II Air Force combat veteran who can't tolerate, without protest, what is happening to my great country. I may not live to see the international mayhem Bush would create, but God help us if we foolishly provide him with four more years of arrogant, blundering leadership. ' Earl Bogardus, Eagle Point