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Letters in the Editor's Mailbag.

Byline: The Register-Guard

Change anthem, please

CORRECTION (ran 9/19/02): Because of editing errors, Verna Erickson's Sept. 18 letter to the editor contained incorrect song references. The beginning of the second paragraph should have read: "Sometime prior to 1930, a big to-do was made that the school children of America had voted for the 'Star Spangled Banner' to become our national anthem. I was one of those children who voted for it - under protest. The other choice was 'America.' We were told very definitely that we could not vote for 'America' because the tune is the same as 'God Save the King.'" The letter also should have stated that the students' salute to the flag was followed "by singing 'America.'"

The front-page picture of members of Congress in New York singing "God Bless America" (Register-Guard, Sept. 7) renewed a hope of mine: that during the lifetime of composer Irving Berlin, Congress would make that song our national anthem. Berlin died in 1989, but it could still be done - thus honoring an immigrant who loved this country and gave us so much good music.

Sometime prior to 1930, a big to-do was made that the school children of America had voted for the "Star Spangled Banner" to become our national anthem. I was one of those children who voted for it - under protest. The other choice was "America the Beautiful." We were told, very definitely, that we could not vote for "God Bless America," as we wished, because the tune is the same as "God Save the King." The teachers were adamant. But isn't the tune of the "Star Spangled Banner" that of an old English drinking song?

Before the vote, we stood by our desks each morning and made the original salute to the flag. It was a real salute - hand at the forehead, then the arm outstretched, pointing to the flag as we said the word "flag." We followed that by singing "America the Beautiful." After the quasi-vote, we sang nothing. Our teachers knew the "Star Spangled Banner" was too difficult for us.

This occurred in an elementary school - grades 1 through 8 - in a then-small town in Western Oregon.

May I suggest, since Congress set the example, that "God Bless America" be played at sporting events instead of the "Star Spangled Banner?"


Bring Keiko home

Bring Keiko home before they kill him! He belongs in Newport, where his home was established. We love him! He loves us.

I am very critical of the people who were obsessed with taking him away. Why? This was a very expensive effort.

Please bring him home!

MARY KAY LOMAX Springfield

Drums weren't 'banged'

I was very happy to read about the article by reporter Mark Baker on the blessing ceremony of the Lane Community College longhouse (Register-Guard, Sept. 12). However, I am very annoyed with one sentence that, for me, perpetuates racist attitudes against Native Americans.

The reporter writes, "They banged drums and sang Native American songs and burned cedar to cleanse the area." This sentence jarred me because not only is it incorrect, it forwards the insidious stereotype of the savage Indian. The drums were played, not "banged." The phrase "banged drums" implies that its a noisy, senseless activity and sound.

I appreciated the overall significance of providing coverage of this important event, but it would have been even more appreciated if there were more cultural awareness of language use.


Help the working poor

As a volunteer for Food for Lane County, I have always been aware of the growing number of hungry people in Oregon. What has become epidemic is the growing number of working people and families that are facing extended economic hardship. In many cases they work at low-wage jobs with little chance for upward mobility. Even working full time, their incomes are so small that after expenses there is little left for food. This is wrong. People who work for a living should not be hungry.

While many of the problems facing the working poor are systemic, Oregonians can help. Measure 25 increases the Oregon minimum wage to $6.90 an hour in 2003 while indexing it for inflation in following years. This is seemingly a small increase, but it's a step in the right direction. Vote yes on Measure 25 in November.

Similarly, the Eugene City Council has voted to research the effects of a living wage proposal put forth by the Eugene Living Wage Campaign. A living wage standard reflects the real cost of living in a community. Many other cities have set living wage standards and found them to be not only affordable but a stimulus to the local economy. People should encourage their city councilors to pass a living wage ordinance.

Increasing the wages paid to low-wage workers is an immediate help to working families. Those same wages are spent in their respective communities, which stimulates the economy - and that helps everyone.

LEE LASSE Springfield

Let victims heal

Not to take anything from the heroic acts of Sept. 11, 2001 - of the police and fire departments of New York City, but I do not need to be reminded of their acts.

What I wonder is, when are we going to give them and their families their lives back and let them grieve among themselves? If we need heroes, look at ourselves and around us.


Recognize sovereignty

How can we best work to stop terrorism in our world? We can start by recognizing the sovereignty of other nations. We can make our foreign policy decisions based on what is best for all people, not what is best for American corporate interests. We can stop selling arms to any nation that is run by any sort of one-party system or dictatorship, even if it is one of our "friends."

We can treat all parties in the Middle East as having equally valid concerns and work with them to find a peace they can all live with. We can treat all peoples with justice and equity. We can consume fewer resources as Americans, especially less oil. We can value and protect the civil rights of all people. We can practice absolute integrity in all our dealings - between individuals, corporations and nations. We can value the labor of all workers and ensure that all work for living wages.

We will not make the world safe from terrorism by deciding which countries have regimes that must be changed. Doing this will only create more violence, more instability, and more hatred of the United States and its citizens.

Americans have shown that we care about those suffering in our midst when we are in a time of crisis. Let us now show that concern by using peaceful means to make the world a safer place for everyone. No war in Iraq!


Stop sterilizing park

I can understand why, after the Mighty O has swished $90 million into the new duck nest, some people might feel the urge to sterilize something.

There's a good side to sterilization - in the emergency room, for example - but there's a bad side too, which is one reason that overwashed kids tend to get sick. Oversterilization itself robs the body's immune system of experience that drives and shapes adaptation. You may not know it, but I am talking about Alton Baker Park.

Something is going wrong there. It didn't just start with dreams of gridiron glory, but it sure seems to have picked up now. Slowly at first, inexorably, perhaps, and now seemingly with a special vengeance, Alton Baker Park is being gentrified. And gentrification is a special form of sterilization.

Gentrification alters the environment to suit the supposed fancies of those with money to spend and on behalf of those who will profit from its expenditure. It tends to remove everything from the environment that is odd, irregular, authentic and genuine. Likewise, it adds things that are cold, dead and artificial.

After the current round of development, the west end of the park will resemble nothing so much as a plastic playground for the consumer class. There'll be more concrete and gravel and gates and cyclone fencing, more laws that nobody obeys or enforces, more gigantic and ghastly-sounding equipment whining its way through every morning and more sound systems blasting their tasteless hysteria through the trees in the afternoon.

Perhaps the Kalapuya and all who respect nature will endeavor to keep the Whilamut untrammeled by any more unnaturalness than is already there - and it's considerable.


Liberties already lost

These are the liberties we have already lost under the Patriot Act: Government agents can conduct sneak searches of our homes without notifying us. Police can investigate us without probable cause, even if the case is unrelated to terrorism; they just have to say it is for intelligence purposes. Federal agents don't need court orders for wiretaps if they claim the intrusions are relevant to ongoing investigations. Libraries and bookstores must reveal lists of books we have purchased if agents state that it is part of a terrorist investigation.

In addition, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has decreed that federal authorities may listen in on detainee/lawyer conversations in secret, and that FBI agents may infiltrate and spy on church and political groups without evidence of a crime and without a court order. Now he wants the right to designate U.S. citizens as enemy combatants, strip them of their civil rights, and hold them incommunicado in prison camps indefinitely, even if no charges are ever filed.

It is easy to see how these sweeping powers could be misused. Each of us must decide whether to submit or object. If we object, when will we do so? Now, while we still have the right to dissent? When we hear that people are being rounded up or are disappearing? When a friend disappears? Because if we are rounded up for saying, "This is wrong, we must change it," or for writing a letter to the editor critical of government policy, it will be too late.

JOHN JARVIE Springfield

Fix is on in Florida

Late-breaking news flash from Florida: Gov. Jeb Bush assures voters that his state's election system problems will be fixed by the general election.

Public response: Hey, Gomer, we already thought it was "fixed."



The Register-Guard welcomes letters on topics of general interest. Our length limit is 250 words; all letters are subject to condensation. Writers are limited to one letter per calendar month. Because of the volume of mail, not all letters can be printed. Letters must be signed with the writer's full name. An address and daytime telephone number are needed for verification purposes; this information will not be published or released. Mail letters to Mailbag, P.O. Box 10188, Eugene, OR 97440-2188 Fax: 338-2828 E-mail:
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Sep 18, 2002
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