News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Things were simpler in an earlier era


In the echoes of my mind, I hold in a huge embrace the era of yesteryear. I had more happiness than sadness in that period, but growing up can still be painful. With Cracker Jacks, and Zero bars (my candy of choice), playing hide-and-seek and tag, the years rushed by like a runaway train.

In those days, people still had their aches and pains (same as today), but rarely did anyone throw in the towel and call it a day. They had a tremendous amount of determination to go on living their lives. Of course, there were always the deceitful and self-serving, but there were more freehearted people who would accommodate people in need without malice or fraud.

In my growing-up days, you could mention the Father, Son and Holy Spirit without fear of reprisal. If you mention this today, the American Civil Liberties Union will be on you before you can say "Amen." They come out of the woodwork.

On nature's side of things, the weather was always colder at Christmas and you could feel something special in the air. Even around holiday seasons, people were less hectic than they are today. We respected the simple things, like decorating Christmas trees and looking surprised on Christmas morning. All of this might sound passe, but there are many things in life worth going back to and remembering. It was definitely a simpler time.

I don't know if history repeats itself, and maybe all of the above mentioned was an illusion, but it's an illusion I subscribe to. Mark Twain once wrote: "History doesn't always repeat itself, but it does rhyme." Merry Christmas.

Jimmy Robinson


Merchant Marines should receive same benefits


I am an American Merchant Marine veteran of World War II and I served as a ship captain and did so until 1988. Many of my shipmates were killed and were in prison camps. While the members of the military's pay continued throughout their service while on leave or in prison camps, the pay stopped for the Merchant Marine. We helped man some of the guns onboard ships, carried the soldiers and equipment that were needed to win the war. We were torpedoed, strafed, bombed and died, just like the men in the military.

President Roosevelt, Gen. McArthur, Gen. Eisenhower, Admiral Nimitz, Admiral King and many others said we should receive the same benefits as the regular military, but something happened, and after the war, we did not get any of the GI Bill as was expected. We were not classified the same as people in the military and did not receive a military discharge until 1988. The only part of the GI Bill we are able to get at this time is to use at the veterans hospital and clinic.

There are now two bills, HR23 in the House and S1272 in the Senate to help take care of some of the things we missed out on during and after World War II. We are asking if persons reading this would contact their senator or congressional member and ask if they will co-sponsor this bill. These bills would provide a small monthly pension for us to help in our remaining years.

Capt. F.E. "Jack" Morgan (ret.)


Unchaining dogs could prevent attacks on people


The recent attack on a boy by a chained pit bull should serve as a wake-up call to people who chain up their dogs most or all of the time ("Babysitter's dog attacks Limestone boy," Nov. 29). Dogs are social animals that crave companionship. Sentencing them to "solitary" can turn them into ticking time bombs, and all too often, defenseless children are the victims. During the past year, at least 50 people have been attacked by chained dogs, and more than half of them were children under age 10.

According to the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, intensive confinement and lack of socialization can cause dogs to become frustrated and overly protective of their little patch of ground, turning them into biters. In 1994, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that chained dogs are nearly three times as likely to attack as those not tethered. According to another study, more than a fourth of fatal dog attacks are by dogs on chains.

In the interest of protecting children and dogs, chaining needs to be regulated. Nearly 80 jurisdictions across the country have passed laws banning or limiting chaining, and several cities are currently considering laws.

For more information on the dangers of chaining dogs, please visit

Alisa Mullins

Norfolk, Va.

Questioning source, not message, of Team Impact


I certainly appreciate Pamela Ramey's well-written response to my original letter to the editor concerning Team Impact. However, I was not criticizing the "positive, wholesome, values-based" message (which isn't the exclusive province of Christian belief), only the source and the motivation behind it. I hope I was wrong about that. I also hope I'm wrong that a Muslim group wouldn't be welcome to speak at the public schools, could promote an event to take place at a mosque, and get the positive publicity that Team Impact did. I'm just not as confident as Ms. Ramey.

Tina Seeborg


Council needs to include park board in decisions


The Point Mallard facility board is a five-person board appointed by the mayor and City Council to oversee the park's operation and finances. At present, we represent every district in Decatur.

In the last month, major changes have taken place at our park. The golf course has been placed under Parks and Recreation. Seven employees have had their jobs terminated and the director was told his job was going to be done away with. All security forces at the park will now be handled by the Police Department.

The present board was never asked its opinion or given any chance for input into these major changes. At our last meeting, Mr. Hammon never asked for any suggestions from the board. The mayor blames the council for this.

Why does Decatur have hard-working boards, then totally ignore them when major decisions have to be made?

The board feels the council has been micromanaging the park and has no concern for our hard work or opinions. There was never any advance knowledge of meetings at city hall, where these changes could be discussed.

As an active board member, I feel I have wasted my time the last four years and city hall is going to do as it pleases, and has no use for its appointed board.

Paul McCain


Questioning president not treasonable act


Two letters printed in these pages on Nov. 30 did more than just imply that anyone against the Bush administration's war policies were treasonous, cowardly and guilty of endangering our troops in the Middle East. This is utter malarkey. Funny, but I do not recall any hesitation on the part of conservatives in criticizing the previous administration's policies when it sent our forces to Bosnia. But the above-mentioned letter writers have worked themselves up into a self-righteous anger by equating criticism of our pathetic president with criticism of our troops. I would refer them to Teddy Roosevelt, who said, "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." To forego disapproval of our politicians just because they declare war is to encourage them to do so any time their polls start to sag.

It is strange who Bush's supporters choose as their heroes. They disparage decorated combat veterans like John Kerry and John Murtha, while turning a blind eye to the collection of draft dodgers in this administration — people who unhesitatingly send other people's children off to war, while none of their kids can be bothered.

Let me make myself clear: I believe our troops in Iraq are doing their best to do the right thing. But they are compelled to put their trust in an untrustworthy and incompetent president, not because they're stupid, and not because they want to, but because they are honor-bound to do so and they are honorable people.

So, I am not "climbing over the dead soldiers to score points," to quote one of the writers. That would be the president, during his last campaign.

David White


Work-release inmates deserve a second look


Your editorial "Governor right to take killers off work-release" could be right, but there are other factors to be considered. There are many persons in prisons labeled murderers who would not even be in prison if they or their families had the money to hire a competent lawyer. If you can't afford a lawyer, the court appoints one for you. Many court-appointed lawyers are OK, but some are very incompetent.

For over 30 years, I used Decatur work-release inmates to work at TK Feedlot in Trinity. The two most industrious, competent, trustworthy persons I ever had working for me were in prison for murder. They were in prison as a result of overzealous prosecution and incompetent defense lawyers. They had my complete trust and never betrayed it. They were given weekend furloughs every three months to visit their families and always returned on time.

The purpose of work-release is to allow prisoners to work in public and prepare themselves to re-enter the business world as a productive citizen.

Under Gov. Fob James, administration prison officials thoroughly investigated every prisoner before allowing them to go to work-release.

You can't always judge by the label.

Kermit Tucker


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