- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 6, 2001

Closing marina reserves Potomac for privileged few

The National Park Service has proposed closing the Belle Haven Marina ("Belle Haven Marinas future appears to be in jeopardy," Sports, April 25). The marina is a jewel on the Potomac River, small and quiet, a refuge from the noise and bustle of the city. My family and I enjoy renting a sailboat at the marina to spend a couple of hours peacefully sailing on the river. Friends we have invited to join us have expressed their delight in finding such a place near the District.

It was, therefore, a terrible shock to learn that the Park Service is now thinking of closing the marina. In a region where public access to the Potomac is so limited, should not the Park Service be particularly intent on maintaining access?

For those who don´t own waterfront property and a private boat, the marina is one of the few places in the metropolitan area offering an opportunity to enjoy the water and the scenery for a moderate price.

Is it not the role of the Park Service to help protect this natural resource for everyone, rather than perpetuate a trend in which only a privileged few benefit from it?


WALTER SCHWERMER

Bethesda

Desire to 'celebrate girls' overwhelms article

In your April 22 article about student teams in the annual Botball competition at George Mason University, the unnamed winners of the competition (all boys) were mentioned in only one sentence, which stated that they came from Oliver Springs High School in Tennessee ("Tilden wins round with revived robot," Metro). The unnamed winners of the Web-site portion of the competition (also all boys) were mentioned in only one sentence, which stated that they came from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County.

In contrast to the anonymity of the winners, the article devoted 41 lines of text to a group of girls (all named, several quoted) on an "all-girls team" that participated. I was surprised at the extent to which the current desire to "celebrate girls" has overwhelmed your judgment.

Next year, I hope that you will bravely step far enough into the realm of political incorrectness to at least tell us the names of the winners. In future years, you may even get so bold as to describe a little bit of what made the winning design better than the designs of those who simply participated.


RONALD K. HENRY

Vienna

Black beret debate denigrates Army

As someone who has spent a fair amount of time in "ordinary" Army combat units, I have found the continual attention to the black beret tiresome. However, your recent editorial really crosses the line ("Battle of the black berets," May 4).

Strangely enough, the oft-lauded Marine Corps doesn´t seem to see the need to discriminate in headgear for its different skills, nor do "elite units" such as the 82nd Airborne prevent the frequently cited "cooks and clerks" from wearing the maroon beret when they are assigned to the division. Certainly, the number of badges, tabs and scrolls awarded to our elite personnel distinguish them sufficiently for their dedication and elan.

These facts are rarely cited by those who have picked the black-beret issue as their platform to lambaste an institution that has honorably served the nation for 225 years. Nor do I think these people really have an idea how much goes into being an "ordinary" member of any service.

The idea, perpetrated by some with little combat knowledge, that only Special Forces personnel face the dangers of combat or suffer death flies in the face of logic and disregards the thousands of "ordinary soldiers" who over time have shown valor, sacrifice and heroism. A visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial should quickly end such selfish and shortsighted attitudes. I am sure Gen. Eric K. Shinseki´s extensive combat experience in Vietnam gives him some insight into what being a soldier is all about.

The Army Rangers are heroes to all soldiers. However, the increasingly shrill tone of this debate denigrates the Army, an institution to which the Rangers also belong and which millions have loved. And, please, the Army motto is not "An Army of One." That is an advertising slogan. We prefer "Duty, Honor, Country."


JEFF WILLIAMS

Garrisonville, Va.


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