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Published: Tuesday, 5/11/2004

The moral lesson of Vietnam War

David Shribman's May 5 column on the Vietnam War missed the most important moral lesson of that conflict.

To understand the war, he should read the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence, written in 1945. Modeled after our own Declaration, it declared Vietnam's independence from French and Japanese control and expressed the hope that the United States and other countries would recognize it as an independent nation.

The U.S. government responded by supporting France's effort to regain control of its colony. After the French were defeated militarily in 1954 and the country was divided into northern and southern zones, our government gradually increased its military involvement and essentially replaced the French in trying to prevent the emergence of an independent, united Vietnam.

For 30 years and six administrations, three Democratic and three Republican, our government worked to deny the Vietnamese the right to separate from their colonial rulers and establish their own independent nation. We sought to deny them the very rights we claimed for ourselves in our Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Too often the arrogance of our power prevents us from remembering the principles and ideals of our founding. When we pursue foreign and military policies that are contrary to those ideals, there will be division and controversy among our citizens. That's why we're still talking about Vietnam 30 years later.

In contrast, the Civil War was fought to extend and fulfill our ideals and World War II was fought because our homeland was attacked.

Too often we fail to recognize that the most powerful political force in the world is nationalism. In Vietnam our political leaders confused nationalism with communism. The Vietnamese weren't fighting for a political ideology. They were fighting for their homeland. We, in effect, were fighting to prevent them from having one.

Robert A. Kelso

Sylvania

The direct result for area residents of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's recent act of expediting the permit approval for the Oregon Coke Plant will be the emission of more than 22,000 pounds of airborne pollutants per day. That's 10 tons a day, or some 8 million pounds each year, and every ounce a health hazard.

Every level of government as well as the private sector has a vehicle for economic development and job stimulation. This is not the responsibility of the EPA. The sole purpose of the EPA is or should be, just as its name implies, the protection of the environment. By greasing the skids for the Coke plant to beat the deadline and thus avoid stricter air standards, standards the plant may not have been able to meet after April 15, the EPA has violated the public trust. The way this permit application was handled smacks of Tammany Hall back-room politics and behind the scenes negotiations.

This entire mess screams for an in-depth investigation. There's an old saying "where there is smoke there's fire," and there is certainly enough smoke here, both figuratively and literally, to look into the underlying causes. Unfortunately, the smoke in this case could well be deadly for many.

James Manning

Oregon

People have varied opinions regarding media coverage of our fallen soldiers coming home. Some are respectful, some disrespectful, and some political.

One thing is certain: Terrorist groups, including Osama bin Laden, have access to worldwide news coverage. Visualizing these groups viewing flag-covered caskets, and their reactions to this, makes me sick.

Beverly Greunke

Angola Road

I believe the real reason President Bush doesn't want the public to see pictures of the flag-draped caskets of our young men and women is because he is ashamed of all the sadness he has brought to so many.

There are no winners in war. We all lose something. The United States has already lost the respect of many of our friends throughout the world.

Frederick O. Freeman

N. Holland-Sylvania Road

Usually only one or two sentences have described who Louie F. Davis was. Not only is he the father of Mannheim Steamroller's Chip Davis, he and his wife, Betty, are legends to all who have known them in Sylvania. He was a tremendous person, so very talented, who expressed his musical abilities in many forms. Betty fluently played the piano, accompanying all of his "First in State" choirs. In 1967-69, I was a second alto in the Sylvania High School Choir.

I also was blessed to have performed in Columbus in a Bach, Beethoven, Brahms vocal quartet directed by Mr. Davis, in which we placed first also. He was building a harpsichord at that time, brought it into school and played expertly and, of course, with inspiring enthusiasm.

Louis wrote his own distinguishing version of the entire Mass a capella and the "Gloria" is one piece we performed in Latin eloquently. He also was a mentor for all young people, but even more so, for his "musical family" for many years in our community.

The benefit concert for the "Louie and Betty Davis Endowment Fund" at Lourdes College touched hundreds of us who will love them both through our entire lives. I have no doubt that anytime this event comes around, even more alumni will become involved. We will become a symbol of the love and encouragement that Louie and Betty gave to us, as we now pass it on to new generations of choral students in their names.

Terri Hurley May

Sylvania

Some time ago The Blade published an article entitled "Budget ax identifies 30 degree programs." In it, Mark Gromko, vice provost for academic programs at Bowling Green State University, decided to focus on the university's decision to eliminate its Master's Degree in Teaching English as a Second Language (MATESL), providing this message to the English department: "You're trying to do too many different things, and you're spreading your resources too thinly as a consequence. We want you to do fewer things so you can do the remainder well."

I doubt that this message would have been directed to the English department if the state of Ohio funded higher education as it should. Second, higher authorities, which Mr. Gromko represents, believe that they know best how the department should use its resources.

Despite clear reasons for continuing the highly regarded MATESL program, which could have extended to other areas (e.g., foreign language departments, the College of Education and Human Development, etc.), there was scant attention given to the program's significance for international education as well as for BGSU itself and the local BG community. Third, in saying resources are spread too thinly, Mr. Gromko has seemingly overlooked how resources for constantly expanding learning centers and related initiatives could be spreading too thinly.

I do not object to the concept of learning centers, but their escalation, I think, has to be controlled. I wonder whether they have been evaluated for possible and potential fragmentation.

I imagine what governs the thinking of BGSU's higher authorities these days is President Sidney Ribeau's seemingly undivided attention to these educational endeavors at the expense of international education.

Wallace L. Pretzer

Bowling Green

Editor's note: Mr. Pretzer is a retired professor of English at BGSU.

In World War ll, we knew the enemy was Japan and we went after them. In the Korean War, we knew the enemy was the Communist North Koreans and we went after them. In Vietnam, we knew the enemy was the Communist North Vietnamese and we went after them.

After 9/ll, we knew the enemy was Osama bin Laden and we went after Saddam Hussein.

Anthony Daniels

Potomac Drive



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