Printed Letters: September 28, 2016

Ignorance of athletes protesting is shameful

This past weekend was Gold Star Family Sunday across America. For those not familiar with Gold Star Family, it is for families who have lost a loved one serving in the military. My wife and I attended Colorado’s Annual Gold Family Retreat in Durango.

Our youngest daughter, Air Force Sgt. Brooke Leigh Caffrey, died in January 2012 as a result of her service. Brooke served for 17 years and deployed to Kuwait, twice to Afghanistan and in 2011 to Iraq. Our Saturday morning in Durango included a custom video of all the Colorado sons and daughters who have died in service since 9/11. The video was beautiful, emotional and gut wrenching. Seeing the pictures of our kids in battle gear and big smiles was a proud yet tearful moment for all the families attending.

One aspect of the video that impacted me was that it included sons, daughters, whites, blacks, Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans — all brothers and sisters serving equally in our armed forces. I contrast those images to the selfish and ignorant stance taken by Brandon Marshall, Colin Kaepernick and other professional athletes that have shown complete disrespect to our flag and national anthem. If only they could have been in that hotel room last Saturday to watch the video or observe the surviving family members.

Our kids who sacrificed their lives for all of us were not blessed with the physical abilities to become overpaid selfish professional athletes. They were and are blessed with an attitude of serving others and each other. They define courage, humility, and love of family and love of a nation, which has provided them with opportunities no matter what their ethnic background.

Colin Kaepernick has now carried his ignorant and selfish message to a high school football team in Oakland. A message that has no validity and no worth.

I am a Vietnam veteran; I know the price that is required to ensure that our nation remains free. My daughter was also aware of the cost and she paid the full price. Brandon Marshall and his pals have stated that their “protest” is not against our service members, yet their physical actions show total disrespect to our nation including our armed forces and our police. Educate yourself; show some respect. Your ignorance is shameful.

Grand Junction

To solve child abuse problem, we all need to help out

Thank you to Erin McIntyre and Gabrielle Porter for their “Failure to Protect” series. As a social worker who has worked with children and families for more than 30 years, it is still hard to accept that right now a child in our community is being neglected or abused. This topic is so painful and such a stigma that it is easy to avoid.

Thank you to the foster and kin parents who have given their hearts and homes to these children. I know not everyone can be a foster/kin parent but everyone can do something to help these children.

Social problems like poverty, addiction, mental illness and domestic violence ripple through our community and these factors contribute to parents not having the skills they need to parent safely. Please reach out to parents you see struggling. Research shows that we can improve this situation by offering concrete help like food and child care; community connection with neighbors and institutions; providing knowledge about what normal child development and behavior is; and help with coping in hard times.

To solve this problem we all have to get involved. It’s time to stand up and reach out. Our children’s lives depend on it. Pearl S. Buck wrote, “If our American way of life fails the child, it fails us all.”


Trump’s statement about not paying taxes is appalling

Donald Trump’s statement during Monday’s presidential debate that he does not pay federal income taxes because “I’m smart” simply stuns me. Does that mean that the rest of us who pay taxes are stupid? Trump bragged, as I recall, that he made over $600 million last year! Just because he is wealthy enough to hire armies of lawyers and accountants to take advantage of the tax system does not impress me. Frankly, it’s appalling.

This is a man of great privilege who is running for president. He should at least pay something to a nation that has benefited him and his family so much — not boast about how he can avoid paying anything to Uncle Sam at all. I don’t see even an ounce of integrity in him, only a desire to use the system, which he openly decries, to his own, ego-driven, financial advantage. There is no sense of civic duty in this man, only blatant self-interest.



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As a Viet Nam era Army veteran and the father of two children who did not serve in the U.S. military, I can only inadequately imagine the unquenchable grief experienced by Wayne Telford (“Ignorance of athletes protesting is shameful”) and the other Gold Star parents who convened in Durango to commemorate the sacrifice of their daughters and sons who gave the last full measure of devotion on behalf of a grateful Nation.

I also appreciate that Telford refused to allow his daughter’s death to be for nothing – by joining a panel commissioned by our own Senator Michael Bennet to identify how to tackle the issues that led to the tragic loss of AF Sergeant Brooke Leigh Caffrey.  See:

However, I would remind Wayne that the oath of service we, his father, his father-in-law, and Brooke all honorably took was to
“support and defend the Constitution of the United States” and
“bear true faith and allegiance to the same” – an oath that makes no mention of either the “Stars and Stripes” or the “Star Spangled Banner”.

Indeed, the poem that later became our National Anthem was written in 1814 – well before enactment of the 13th (1865), 14th (1868), and 15th (1870) Amendments to that Constitution, and it has been unconstitutional to compel recitation of the “Pledge of Allegiance” to that flag since 1943 (in the middle of World War II).  Rather, in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, our Supreme Court held that ideological dogma is antithetical to the principles of this Country, concluding that:

“If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

Thus, it is particularly ironic that Telford cites the ethnicity of the Fallen, including those minorities for whom—relative to we
“whites” – the Constitutionally solemn promises of “equal protection of the laws” and unabridged voting rights remain too-often unfulfilled.

Therefore, it is hardly “selfish” or “ignorant” for athletes at all levels to peacefully call attention to the continuing disconnect between the cherished words of our Constitution and the disparate treatment of minorities by our criminal justice system.  To the extent that our flag still symbolizes persistent structural racism, it arguably deserves a commensurate measure of “disrespect”.

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