Letters to the Editor

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Monday, July 4, 2005

On this Independence Day, take a moment to remember those who have sacrificed for all of us

Sixteen lives lost. Sixteen families permanently altered. And so it happened on a rugged mountainside last Tuesday in eastern Afghanistan.

In the time it took the United States Special Forces helicopter carrying reinforcements for battle with al-Qaida militants to crash to the ground after coming under enemy fire and to tumble into a ravine, the fate of 16 American soldiers was sealed. The lives of those they touched and who love them forever changed.

Sixteen husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, nephews, uncles, fiancés, boyfriends, friends. Gone. Gone from us in what seems an instant, and for what feels like an eternity.

All this came less than a week away from this country's Independence Day.

What will you do to celebrate today? Watch a fireworks display? Enjoy a cookout with friends and neighbors? See a concert? Go to a baseball game? Attend a funeral?

Whatever you do, you must celebrate. Whether it be at a crowded party or in the quiet solitude of your home. Celebrate the independence these men died to provide. Celebrate the freedom they fought for because for some, this year's celebration will be replaced by a funeral. A funeral celebrating the life of someone who died too young. Don't let that be in vain.

When you're at the ball park and the flag is raised and the national anthem is played, pay attention. Remove your hat. Place your hand over heart. Sing the words, or at least listen to them, and really understand what they mean.

Understand that the hundreds of thousands of men and women who are fighting or who have fought in the war on terror, the war with Iraq, the Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea, World War II, World War I, the Revolutionary War and even the Civil War all put their lives at risk not only to provide American citizens with freedom and independence, but in an attempt to provide the citizens of the world this same privilege.

These men and women go into battle not without fear, but with a strength of purpose and commitment that provides them courage and bravery far beyond what even they know lives inside them.

It is because of these men and women, along with the families and friends who are willing to sacrifice right along with them, that we can proudly declare ourselves "the land of the free and the home of the brave." And it is because of them we can continue to have hope for brotherhood "from sea to shining sea." And these seas stretch far beyond the Atlantic and Pacific, which border our nation, reaching across the globe to include the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Baltic.

We like to think of ourselves as a peaceful nation. But no matter your politics, the fact is it has been through death, destruction and the shedding of our own blood that peace has been won.

Celebrate that peace, this Independence Day and every day. And give thanks to all those who are willing to fight to provide it.

In honor and respectful memory of 16 who died, and of all those who face each tomorrow without them.

Robin Dawson


It's patriotic to express dissenting opinion

Daniel Grantham (Letters, June 22) hit it right on the head when he said, "It's a sad thing when people confuse patriotism with loyalty to a leader or party instead of to a nation's founding principles." Dissent truly protects democracy.

Here's what a few great Americans have had to say on the subject:

» "Patriotism means to stand by your country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official." -- Theodore Roosevelt

» "We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it." -- Edward R. Murrow

» "A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government." -- Edward Abbey

» "May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion." -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

» "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president ... is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt

» "Criticism in a time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government." -- Sen. Robert Taft (R, Ohio)

Keith Haugen

It's time to pull out troops from Iraq

Iraq is no closer to stability than it was a year ago. Things keep getting worse every week. More than 1,700 Americans have been killed and more than 12,000 wounded.

The U.S. occupation is fueling a growing insurgency. Our presence exacerbates the problem. There are tens of thousands of insurgents backed by hundreds of thousands of supporters.

We got into this war based on lies -- the wrong way. It's time to get out the right way. The first step is to realize that the Bush policy is out of touch with reality.

We need a real exit plan with a real time line providing real accountability for our leaders. We need to turn control of the training of Iraqi forces and the rebuilding of Iraq to the international community. And we must renounce permanent military bases in Iraq because that angers the Iraqi people.

Alf Maglalang

Ajifu was a brave, compassionate leader

The Hawaii Safe Schools Coalition would like to express its profound sadness at the passing of Shannon Ajifu. She was an insightful and compassionate leader who served on the Board of Education for many years.

During her tenure on the board, she helped usher through the passage of Chapter 19, the Department of Education's anti-harassment policy. She supported the inclusion of sexual orientation as one of the protected classes in the policy along with race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, religion and disability.

Ajifu understood the harassment that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students face daily and fought tirelessly for their inclusion in the policy. Despite vocal opposition from conservative extremists, Ajifu stood her ground and stood up for the rights of these youth.

Ajifu will be sorely missed. We sincerely hope the future BOE members and other leaders follow in her brave and compassionate footsteps.

Nancy Kern Robin Nussbaum
Co-chairwomen, Hawaii Safe Schools Coalition

Governor should keep vow not to raise taxes

Taxpayers are suffering from an overdose of taxes; the most potent is the general excise tax. Gov. Linda Lingle says she is not the one (the dispensing pharmacy) raising the tax -- but that she is merely enabling the county to decide whether to overdose us some more. This sounds more like the governor and Legislature are the prescribing doctors. Isn't the bottom line that the tax dose is certain to be more and stronger, no matter who imposes it?

The governor's insistence that the Legislature provide (tax credit) relief for the less fortunate does nothing for the rest of Hawaii's taxpayers who pay the bulk of the taxes that run government.

Finally, neighbor islanders are not the constituents of the mayor and Honolulu City Council, but the higher general excise tax will be imposed upon them by virtue of all of the products and services that come through Honolulu. Isn't that like taxation without representation?

We call on the governor to veto House Bill 1309. Her honor rests in living up to her written pledge not to raise taxes on the people of Hawaii.

Dale Evans

Lawmakers, have mercy on taxpayers

Your April 29 editorial call for tax relief comes after the Council on Revenues raised its forecast state revenue estimates for 2005 and 2006. House Bill 1309 will increase the general excise tax from 4 percent to 4.5 percent. If passed, this increase will raise the tax on groceries, rent, medicine and everything we consume to a straight sales tax equivalent of 15 percent!

Those who spend more of their income on basic living will be hit the hardest by this regressive tax. How ironic that one hand gives breaks while the other increases the cost of living.

The taxpayer in Hawaii is among the top three highest taxed in the nation. The GE tax applies to all goods and services and pyramids through wholesale transactions and services. The final insult is that GE taxes are not deductible for state or federal income tax purposes.

Please, governor, senators, representatives and City Council members, follow Hippocrates' decree -- first, do no harm. Do not raise the general excise tax!

Paul E. Smith

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