News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
THURSDAY, AUGUST 23, 2007
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

City government will continue to take away our property rights

To The Daily: My doctor has been after me for some time now. He says that if I don’t stop frequenting public places that allow smoking, the second-hand smoke is doubtlessly going to give me cancer, emphysema, or some other deadly disease. This would be a terrible thing. After all, my wife and children certainly want me around as long as they can have me. It’s been a hard road, though.

I love restaurants. Who doesn’t love eating out? And the mall, the bowling alley — heck, even my own front yard — I enjoy all of these places. I was truly depressed by the grave, life-altering changes that my doctor advised. Now, as it turns out, I don’t have to quit. The people of Decatur have spoken. I don’t have to quit frequenting anywhere. The city is going to ban smoking and make property owners quit for me.

Quit what? Property rights. Instead of forcing me to quit smoking first- or second-hand smoke (which I doubt they could) and under the guise of “public health,” they are forcing some property owners to further quit a large portion of their rights to use their own property. And make no mistake: They will do it again, and again, and again. Hopefully it’s never something Decatur residents actually care about.

As a guest in your home, if I ask you to do something for me and you say “no,” what recourse do I have? Because of this ordinance and its disregard for private property rights, now it seems I have recourse to petition the government to force you to say “yes” to anything I desire, so long as I can convince them it’s for the “good of the people.”

Private property sacrosanct? Not in Decatur.

David G. Rawlings
Decatur

Coal mining tragedies touch lives of many

To The Daily: “Just like valiant soldiers going into battle, the coal miner requires that same courage, spirit, and acceptance of destiny and fate each day he descends into the bowels of the earth to earn a living.”

On Dec. 21, 1951, in Franklin County, Ill., 218 men began the last shift before a Christmas shutdown at the New Orient No. 2 coal mine. An hour or so into the shift, the call went out, “Something terrible has happened!” Ninety-nine men came out alive, while 119 did not. A methane gas explosion had rocked the mine. On that horrible night, 109 women were widowed, 175 children were left fatherless. Sons, fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers and a set of twins were lost. One woman was widowed for the second time. The youngest miner was 19, the oldest 64. Many were veterans.

My mother’s hometown of Benton, Ill., was a small mining town, as were the surrounding communities. Her father, an uncle, most of her brothers and one brother-in-law were all involved with the mine in some way. Most were miners, working 500 to 600 feet under ground. They had all finished their shifts, but returned to help with rescue efforts; even my grandfather, although he had lost a leg in a mining accident.

Mother was 19, recently graduated and working in Chicago. She was on her way home with friends for Christmas when they heard the tragic news on the radio. Needless to say, it was a harrowing 300-mile trip for the occupants of that car. She remembers the music the most. Sad, mournful tunes for a community in mourning. There was no Christmas cheer here — only funeral after funeral.

I’m writing this because the mining accident in Utah has been weighing heavily on my heart. I can only imagine the anguish those families are feeling. I will continue to pray for a good outcome.

Pamela H. Milligan
Decatur

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