- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 13, 2004

In memory of…

The Tourist Guide souvenir section of May 28 is appreciated by this veteran and, surely, by many other war veterans due to its complete coverage of the many memorials that adorn the capital city.

However, I could not help but note the several errors in the descriptive text of the Korean War Veterans Memorial on page H4 and page H18.

The caption for a photograph of the memorial’s poncho-clad figures states that they are “life-size,” but they are actually larger than life. The memorial’s figures themselves are in error, and this has been known by most of us who fought as combat infantrymen in Korea. On this memorial’s dedication day, Col. Lewis Millett, in a speech he made at our 25th Infantry Division reunion, recalled to those several hundred former infantrymen that we did not have any ponchos, that we never had any ponchos and that in war conditions we did not want any ponchos. Ponchos would be a terrible encumbrance. It should be obvious that no one in their right mind would move about on a combat patrol wearing a poncho. Better to get wet than dead. When fired on, a natural reaction is to crouch low and run for cover or run to a more advantageous point for counter-action. Wearing a poncho would almost guarantee stepping on the low hanging edge or corner, tripping yourself up and half obscuring one’s vision in the entanglementofmanand poncho.

On page H18, under Korean War Veterans Memorial, the description claims, “Nineteen sculptures of infantrymen patrol ….” Among the sculptured figures are Marines, Navy men, Air Force personnel and Army infantrymen.

No combat infantryman would form and move a patrol in this manner unless he were intent on suicide. The enfilade (alignment) positioning would have many casualties from a single lengthy burst of machine-gun fire. Our actual combat patrols usually were kept serpentine to avoid alignment, not offering multiple targets.

All former Korean War combat infantrymen I know or have talked to are aware of these errors about the memorial. Of the various comments, remarks and observations heard from former comrades in arms, the common thread seems to sum up as: “Oh, well. What can you expect from a bunch of bureaucrats on a commission?”

Overall, I appreciate that we got a memorial before we die. Recent comments of World War II survivors about the new memorial being too late for many called this to mind.

JOHN PEPPER

Bladensburg

Acknowledging ‘the Big Fella upstairs’

In the article “Park officials relent, allow river baptisms” (Metropolitan, Friday), it is ironic that Kent Willis, executive director of the Virginia American Civil Liberties Union, asserts the following: “What we find is a lot of confusion among public officials who have difficulty distinguishing between the free exercise of religion and the separation of church and state.”

Given that the ACLU was instrumental in doing away with grace being said at the dinner meal of my alma mater,the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), it appears that it has trouble distinguishing between the First Amendment forbidding Congress from “making law respecting an establishment of religion” and that of giving thanks to, as former President Reagan put it, “the Big Fella upstairs.”

It is not hard to understand that acknowledging and giving thanks to God for the blessings He has bestowed on this “shining city on the hill” is not establishing a state religion. What is confusing, however, is the ACLU threatening to file a lawsuit for removal of a cross on the Los Angeles County seal but not for the goddess ofPomona, which also appears on said seal; to view the saying of a non-denominational prayer in the VMI dining hall just before the dinner meal as a violation of “church and state separation,” yet a chaplainopens each session in the chambers of Congress. The ACLU would have us believe that many violations of the First Amendment occurred this past week as the nation celebrated the life and mourned the loss of our 40th president, Ronald Reagan. I think not.

CARMEN D. VILLANI JR.

Chantilly

Just common sense

Roger D. Leonard naively said in Friday’s letter “Compromised sovereignty” that we should not hold Iraq up to its armistice agreement because it was possibly under duress at the time. Extending that thinking, every peace treaty or armistice agreement would be potentially null and void. The provisions in law to protect those entering a contract are hardly applicable to the world of foreign policy.

After 13 years of attempted diplomacy with Iraq, patience was not our shortcoming. Was Iraq under duress when it signed an armistice after the Gulf War? I hope so. What nation is not under duress as the loser of a war? Mr. Leonard’s belief that consideration of duress is relevant to foreign policy is neither true nor logical. If Saddam Hussein truly believed he was right to invade Kuwait, he could have continued to fight, duress or not. At the time of his capture, he chose to live rather than fight. It was a choice. It was his own fault if he did not like the options open to him. We all live under some levels of duress. Using Mr. Leonard’s common-law reasoning, none of us should be held to account for our agreements or actions.

The U.N. Charter was written under the premise that all nations wanted to live in peaceful coexistence. The 1990 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq placed it in conflict with the ideals of the U.N. Charter. Maybe a good legal analogy to satisfy Mr. Leonard’s conscience would be that of a convicted felon. Just as a murderer is not allowed a license to carry a handgun, so Iraq should not be allowed to possess weapons of mass destruction. Not common law, just common sense.

SERGE WING

Alexandria

The strength of America

The most poignant moment for me during the final funeral proceedings in California for former President Ronald Reagan occurred when former first lady Nancy Reagan leaned over the casket, crying with grief, surrounded by her children trying to comfort her (“Mourning brings Reagans together,” Page 1, yesterday). That moment captured the faithfulness of a wife to her husband and the loyalty of children to their parents. It embodied the American ideal of a family’s togetherness overcoming adversity through the grace of God.

What makes America strong is not military strength, size or wealth. America’s greatest strength, since its founding, is its families. I believe this moment for the Reagan family touched the hearts of many Americans because we could relate to them in this most trying of times. The faith, devotion, loyalty and commitment the Reagans exhibited toward each other remain ideals we should strive to achieve within our own families. As Mr. Reagan showed us, strong families create great leaders and make for a strong nation.

DINO TEPPARA

Falls Church

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