LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Leaders shirk historical duties

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Today it seems our political leaders can only deliver that which is self-serving or attack the other guy’s speeches. Ask them to assume the role of statesman or orator, speaking about history, and they shrink from duty (“Obama diss: President snubs historic Gettysburg 150th anniversary ceremony,” Web, Oct. 31).

On Sept. 11, 2001, my brother Billy, captain of Engine 21, New York Fire Department, gave his life. Billy was a frequent visitor to Gettysburg, Pa., and a supporter of the battle’s remembrance. For more than a decade, I have called on the president — first President George W. Bush, then President Obama — to deliver on the anniversary of Sept. 11, at ground zero, a formal speech to commemorate and explain to the nation and the world the full historical meaning of Sept. 11. Instead, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, self-appointed master of ceremonies, dictates unilaterally that no elected official of the people may say a word beyond whatever barely relevant poem or biblical passage he hands them to recite. Otherwise, they stand stone quiet like the proverbial cigar-store Indians.

Mr. Obama’s Gettysburg snub is similar. The York Daily Record in Pennsylvania in an editorial called it “unacceptable,” and I agree.

MICHAEL BURKE

Bronx, N.Y.

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