Don’t be so quick to judge Sgt. Bergdahl
Re: June 10 Charles Kruathammer column, "Swap no cause for celebration,"it is a futile exercise to write a letter in response to a nationally syndicated commentator, but here it is. I question how much experience many of these pundits have with the brutality of combat and living 24/7 in a terrible place such as a forward post in Afghanistan.
People react in a variety of ways to this incredibly stressful situation. Soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen sometimes act as we see in the movies. But many times, they do not. It is with the service members' chain of command that their performance and conduct should be considered, not talk radio entertainers or conservative columnists. To condemn Sgt. Bergdahl after the years of brutality he suffered as a POW is unconscionable.
During the Gulf War in 1991, my ship was severely damaged by underwater Iraqi mines. One young fireman in my electrical division, Electrician's Mate Fireman Smith, placed his life in danger by staying in a flooding compartment with a live electrical switchboard until he was ordered to evacuate. His actions saved critical equipment by preventing a fire and explosion and harm to a damage-control party entering from the opposite side of the compartment.
I nominated this young fireman for a Medal for Valor, which he received. Let me add, though, that prior to this event, he stood out from the rest of the division and not in a positive way. The months on station in the Northern Persian Gulf during the war may have had an influence. His performance was marginal; he was not well liked by his shipmates and there was grumbling about whether he deserved the award.
The chain of command and I thought differently. Regardless of his prior conduct and performance, his actions during the mine attack were courageous.
In regards to Sgt. Bergdahl, just to stay alive during his captivity in the most horrendous of conditions is commendable.
He was compelled to live in torturous conditions, not because of who he was, but what he represented -- all of us, the United States of America. We should celebrate and honor one who survived what must have been sheer hell for five years.
One other very important point: The sergeant has a father and mother. I am absolutely sure that those with the negative and, at times, wrathful comments would think differently if he was their son.
John Van Patten
The writer is a retire U.S. Navy lieutenant commander.
Casino will be good for city in long run
The casino is good for Schenectady. Let's start with, we have a polluted brownfield that's generating zero dollars and jobs. Next, we have an opportunity to develop this barren wasteland into an entertainment destination that will generate construction jobs, management jobs, service jobs, tax dollars and tourist traffic for downtown businesses.
Other than the usual NIMBYs and anti-business "sky is falling" types, can any rational city resident not see that Schenectady has a chance here to become the Capital Region destination? Thanks to improvements already in motion to downtown and Erie Boulevard, Schenectady already trumps downtown Albany or downtown Troy.
I'm proud to take visitors downtown now. We have great eclectic restaurants, unique shops, safe streets and the best playhouse north of Times Square. Imagine having dinner downtown, seeing a show at Proctors, then jumping on some type of mass transit to our new casino.
Sure, our city government must negotiate assurances on things like tax dollars for our schools, additional funds for our police department and infrastructure improvements. But once all the "i's" are dotted, and the "t's" are crossed, this casino will trumpet Schenectady's return to the big leagues.
Obama owes us all one giant apology
What will it take to finally wake up the American people?
Our president has continued to act illegally and without concern for us.
He sold us a snake-oil health-care bill on proven lies. Has weakened our stance on the world stage, and run our economy deeper and deeper into debt. He wants to put the final knife into the economy by raising the minimum wage, even though unemployment is out of control.
He continues to refuse to enforce immigration laws that protect our country, so we are being flooded with refugees that we cannot support. All the while, our veterans are being ignored. But to violate laws that protect all Americans by making an incredibly lopsided deal to trade one person for five high-level terrorists is unacceptable. He said he will not apologize for this action.
I'm sure he also will not apologize to the American soldiers who sacrificed to remove these people from being able to harm us, the Americans on whom he has put large pricetags on their heads, or for reinvigorating the terrorists that live to destroy our country.
Casino will be bad for Stockade, city
The benefits described by the casino developers; new jobs -- new tax revenue, economic activity for local businesses -- seem almost impossible to resist. It's almost like being offered a free banana split, with three scoops of ice cream, whipped cream and a cherry on top.
Many of us know from experience it's not good for your health. I suspect that the casino will produce the same result for the health of the community.
I live in the Stockade, so-named because the residents had built a stockade fort to keep hostile Indians out and for protection. If the casino is built, the projection is for over 2 million people visiting a year, many traveling over Erie Boulevard past the Stockade neighborhood.
I propose that the old stockade fort be rebuilt to keep out the deluge from taking a wrong turn after they've lost their life savings at the slot machines.
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