On Sunday, June 15, a letter appeared in the letters to the editor section that affronted me as a former Army draftee.
The gist of the writer's letter apparently is that a volunteer soldier is better in defending his country than a draftee. The letter does not reveal if the writer was ever in the military. The draft drew from the spectrum of our society. The draft brought in individuals who saw it as their obligation and duty to serve their country, and they did with courage and honor. The writer must be unaware that the U.S. military during WWI and WWII was largely composed of draftees.
During my military training, I did not see the drill instructors devoting any more attention to draftees than volunteers. After training, I spent the rest of my military service as a company clerk. One of my duties was preparing Article 15 papers for the company commander to sign. An Article 15 was a type of punishment for certain misdemeanor offenses. I prepared just as many for volunteers, if not more, than draftees. The individual will be good soldier, or bad, based on that individual's character.
Johnny Jones, Hixson
Regarding the site for the 700-square-foot chapel discussed in your cover story on Tuesday, June 3:
In discussing this meditative space plan with other employees who work adjacent to the site, we question the appropriateness of the design itself, given the natural beauty and fragility of the wetland habitat of the varied birds who nest in the dense old-growth forest.
The rendering seems to have no consideration of the contour and water issues of the site and looks to require expensive engineering remediation.
If we instead utilized our technical prowess and resources to rethink this build using cutting-edge methods and materials to minimize the amount of physical change to the terrain and lessen the extent of ground construction, the impact will not only protect this last bit of forested area on campus but will open the door for us to establish a bold new forward-thinking mission that better aligns us in our partnership with Volkswagen as leaders in sustainability. Key to the term sustainable is economic prosperity.
ELIZABETH MILLER, Chattanooga
Gwen Tidwell has been the Criminal Court clerk for the past 20 years and has the character, compassion and professionalism to be clerk for 20 more. A year or so ago, a young mother had a court appearance and could not find anyone to watch her infant, so she had to bring the child to court. During the proceedings, the baby began to cry and could not be calmed. The judge was on the verge of having the mother arrested for contempt of court when a concerned clerk notified her boss, Mrs. Tidwell, of the problem. The child was taken downstairs to Mrs. Tidwell's office, where it was looked after until the mother's business in court had been resolved. How many public servants do you know of who serve the public in this way? On occasion, I have had reason to go to court, as I am sure many of you have. Mrs. Tidwell's staff has always been professional, helpful and courteous, and if you do your research, you will see she is the taxpayers' best friend in the county. If you want a Criminal Court clerk who is professional, frugal, as well as compassionate, vote and keep Gwen Tidwell in the job she does so well.
JAMES HANCOCK, Ooltewah
Five years ago, I read a book on Andersonville prison. After that, on every trip back and forth to Florida, I always wanted to tour this historical site. I finally went two weeks ago. To my surprise, there is a national prisoner of war museum there. I found it very ironic that only a few weeks prior to my trip, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl had been exchanged and called a POW by the administration. While visiting the cemetery of over 13,800 men who died in deplorable conditions, I began to question how Bergdahl could be called a POW. This a complete insult to the brave men and women that served our country. If he left his post and his weapons, he is a deserter. If he was captured, then he was a prisoner. Therefore, he is not due any back pay or any promotions. I would also say, in comparison to the conditions at Andersonville, he was on an all-expenses-paid vacation of his own making.
BRAD CASE, Signal Mountain
As a lifelong Republican, I support very few Democrats for office. However, I have known Kenny Smith for over 40 years since he played basketball and baseball at Chattanooga High School. And I have known his wife, Sammie, for her entire life, going back to when our families were members of First Baptist Church. Kenny would be a great representative for District 8 on the County Commission.
The two most important issues facing our county are education and economic development. While serving as School Board chairman, Kenny showed he would put the best interests of the students above partisan politics. As training director of the IBEW apprentice school, he trains young men and women for high-paying, skilled jobs for the 21st century. Kenny will work with county Mayor Jim Coppinger to maintain and increase the amazing progress Hamilton County has made in recent years.
I encourage everyone in District 8 to vote for Kenny Smith.
DOUGLAS JONES, Ooltewah
I'm hearing the chicken hawk neo-cons who were totally wrong in their assessment of Iraq now trying to lay the blame for recent unrest in Iraq at President Obama's feet. They say he "lost what we fought for." First, I'm going to need somebody to explain to me exactly what it was that we were fighting for.
Oh, I mean, I know what they told us; sure, Saddam Hussein attacked America on 9-11, right? Saddam Hussein was in league with al-Qaida, remember?
By the time we figured out we'd been lied to, we were shoulder deep in Iraq and the president of the United States hung his infamous "mission accomplished" banner.
It turns out we're real good at the blowing-stuff-up part, not so good at the end-game part. Which in retrospect shouldn't be all that surprising, given that in order to build a civilization, it helps if you actually have some vague familiarity with the people involved.
Needless to say, we didn't. And we didn't care. To America, they were all people who ought to be grateful to America for burning down their country.
ANN BENTON, Signal Mountain
Within the past few weeks, I was pleased with three articles. I wanted to say thank you.
1) The front page -- no murders, no robberies, but "good news": "Chattanooga Has Grade-A Drinking Water."
2) The encouraging, complimentary article concerning UTC's new basketball coach, Will Wade, who is not only building and teaching a team to be good athletes but also how to be good students, encouraging them to be fine, honest men and how to be citizens in this messed-up world.
3) I want to thank and encourage Dr. Jim Catanzaro at Chattanooga State for his leadership and efforts to make that campus the best in the state; that he listens to the needs of students who are working hard to get their education to make a tremendous change in their lives and improve our society; they see and experience the need of a chapel building on their campus -- a place to rest quietly, peacefully; a place to be quiet, to feel the need of peace.
How beautiful is that dream?
There is an old song, "Make the world go away."
I imagine a lot of folks feel this need in this rushing world.