Remember veterans everyday
Memorial Day is a special tribute to all veterans, past and present. It is the time for reflection of past ideas and present conflicts.
Unfortunately, it seems that conflicts throughout the world are inevitable. They have existed from the time of civilization.
Serving in the military to protect our liberties is not easy. Those who have served away from home endure many discomforts and much danger. They miss all of their loved ones, the conveniences of civilian life and their own safety. In many cases, they face the hostility of the people in the region they serve in addition to the dangers from the enemy, radical extremists and terrorists. Many suffer long-term injuries and the threat of death.
In addition to praying for the safety of our military personnel, more has to be done for all of our veterans and active military. It is our government's moral and ethical responsibility to provide assistance to integrate all veterans back into our civilian society and to provide all the medical care they need. There are thousands of veterans suffering from physical disabilities and mental disorders as a result of their military service. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has become a major ailment that requires care and treatment for thousands. Prosthetic devices have to be designed and applied for those veterans who have lost arms and legs. Health treatment centers have to become more efficient and effective. Veterans must have an improved medical card.
There is a three year backlog in disability claims at the Veterans Administration.
We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the U.S.A., a commitment that begins with enlistment and must never end. It is time to give our veterans a 21st Century administration.
Memorial Day is the formal day of paying tribute to all of our veterans. However, every day of the year is the day to honor all of our veterans and our military for their sacrifices on our behalf. God bless all our veterans. God Bless all our military. God bless America, the land of the free and the brave.
Col. Irving Davidoff (ret.), New Smyrna Beach
General Staff Intelligence Officer World War II
Former acting chief of information Department of Army, Pentagon
Guns don't help
I have read with interest the letters regarding guns in our society. Let me state my position is that unregulated guns have no place in 21st Century America. The Gun Lobby completely overlooks the fact that more than 30,000 Americans are killed or injured by guns each year in the United States. The overwhelming number of these deaths is not caused by criminals. People are killed and injured by guns in the hands of their spouses, relatives, friends and neighbors. The statistical evidence clearly demonstrates you are more likely to be shot accidently, or by someone you know, than by a criminal.
The Gun Lobby ignores these facts and instead plays the fear card. "You need the gun to protect yourself and your family." Never mentioning we have well-trained professionals whose job it is to protect us from criminals. They are called the police. Yes, I concede that if you are confronted by a criminal whose intent is to do you harm, a gun, fully loaded, at the ready, might scare the perpetrator away. This scenario happens so infrequently that when it does occur it makes the newspapers.
A good analogy might be if the nation had several hundred house fires each year and someone invented a device to install in the home that automatically put out fires as soon as they started. It would seem like a good idea to be able to put out fires without waiting for the fire department. However, if it turned out the device malfunctioned and was responsible for burning down 30,000 homes a year most people would not install it even if the device was legal.
The same is true with guns. Even if you believe the Constitution gives you the right to have one, it doesn't necessarily make sense to have one or allow them in our society. Like the malfunctioning fire device, you are statistically safer without a gun than having one
James M. Doumas, Port Orange
Flagman is Here
West Volusia County resident Bill Coffield has taken it upon himself to make sure everyone in his community has the opportunity to fly an American flag.
When new residents move in, he approaches them with an offer to mount their flag. He carries a canvas kit with tools for mounting a flag pole bracket and even supplies a flag pole when needed. On daily walks or riding his bicycle, he patrols the community of 278 homes, to see if flags are flying free or need replaced. He smiles and says, "good thing I'm tall," as he reaches up to unsnag a flag from a snag on the roof.
Bill has a small printed note with his telephone number he leaves at a door when Old Glory has passed its prime, being tattered or faded. When he gets a call, he offers to visit the local home improvement store to purchase a new flag for the resident. When he shows up to mount the flag, he presents the receipt and accepts a check or cash from the resident.
When asked by a curious neighbor if he is a veteran, he explains, "I missed the wars, I'm just patriotic and want to encourage everyone to have the opportunity to fly Old Glory." Since he lives in a retirement community, many people are unable to handle the purchasing and mounting, and even keeping the flag flying free daily so he is honored to provide the service.
After Bill and his wife, Esther, moved to the 55-plus community of Kings Lake about seven years ago, he noticed on their daily walks that several of the flags already displayed needed attention. He quickly fell into the habit of straightening them daily, and hoped that the residents didn't mind. Not only did they appreciate the effort, he soon became known as the Flag Man of Kings Lake. Sometimes they don't recall his name, but say, "Oh, I know you, you're the flag man."
As Memorial Day, Flag Day and Fourth of July approach, Bill is encouraging everyone to fly a flag to show appreciation for our freedom for which so many people have fought.
Esther Coffield, DeBary
In response to: 'Close charter schools'
In reference to the letter submitted by Tom Jones from Orange City:
I am personally offended by your words regarding Charter Schools. As a teacher at Burns Science and Technology Charter School in Oak Hill, I see highly educated and dedicated teachers. We are certified (I have been since 1979), experienced and committed to teaching each and every child under our care. My background check was as thorough as any public teacher's, as it was mandated by the county. We train right alongside Volusia County teachers at professional development workshops. We were invited to join the union. What makes you think we are out to destroy it?
We are not taking money from public schools other than using it to educate students that would otherwise be at a public school. We return five percent per child back to the county, thereby taking more monies from our children. We use hundreds of our own dollars to supplement school supplies. Do not lump all charter schools in with one that was run by a criminal.
At Burns we hold our teachers and students up to a higher level than the public schools. Yes, our first year test scores were not great, but the work the students have put in this year will show a marked improvement in this year's scores. All of our "pre-testing" has shown Burns to be at or above Volusia county levels in almost every subject at every grade level.
As a final thought, the City of Oak Hill and the Board at Burns Sci-Tech take the job of overseeing our children's education quite seriously. It is an insult to them as well to accuse them of wasting tax dollars and not caring about our community school, one that Volusia County closed down five years ago. They, as well as the teachers and administration at Burns are bringing this community back to life.
Shawna Batchelor, Titusville
Congratulations to the City of Ormond Beach
We just visited the Andy Romano Park on the beach for the first time, and it is beautiful. Since we happen to be avid beachgoers, it was such a pleasure to have showers available that were not in the sand, and real bathrooms instead of a port-o-let.
The design is fantastic. Colors used are great, and all involved in bringing this park together should be very, very proud. It's even better than Sun Splash Park. We have always been against taking the cars off the beach completely, mainly because of not having to haul everything to the sand, but with this park that problem is solved. The parking is so close, it's really easy to get set up on the beach. As residents of Ormond Beach, we voted for the taxpayer dollars needed, and would do so again in a heartbeat. What an asset to our city.
Brian and Gail Kelley, Ormond Beach
In response to: 'Close charter schools'
When I read Tom Jones' letter condemning charter schools, my thought was that he must have had a terrible experience with one. His opinions will not change, but this letter is my attempt to show the other side of the coin to those who have not made up their minds about charter schools. Charter schools are often the result of frustrations experienced by students, parents, and educators in traditional schools.
I am not a proponent of charter schools. My passion is for smaller, community-based schools, particularly for primary grades. Education is about more than academics. It is about molding tomorrow's adults. I believe we do a better job starting within a smaller framework.
When Volusia County Schools closed the elementary school in our community, the only choice we had was to apply for a charter. I am honored and humbled to serve as a member of the governing board of that school. "Serve" is the definitive word. Satisfaction is our compensation. Each of our families signs a yearly contract committing to 30 hours of volunteer time. They, too, serve, perhaps assisting a teacher, mowing the grass, providing lunch-time monitoring, repairing the plumbing -- any needs they may be qualified to meet. Our school is a not-for-profit corporation, and we must all make an investment in it.
We receive 95 percent of the dollars per student that would go to a traditional school if the student were in attendance there, so we must find ways to operate on less money. This does not mean we scrimp in the classroom. Our teachers are not only highly qualified, they must submit to background checks, fingerprinting, and drug testing, just as employees in traditional schools do. As a governing board member, I also was "checked out," even though I am a Volusia County School retiree. Our financial records are audited each year. Governing board meetings are open to the public. Each month we receive several pages of financial reports, and our financial officer stands ready to answer any and all questions.
The bottom line is not all charter schools are created equal. I have a hard time understanding how a for-profit company can run a school without siphoning off money that should go to the classroom. I can only speak for our school, though, and I ask that the public judge each school on its own merits.
My sympathy to Mr. Jones.
Anna Lou Luznar, New Smyrna Beach
Board Secretary, Reading Edge Academy, DeBary