- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 12, 2002

A tornado with a silver lining

In a few short minutes just after 7 p.m. on April 28, the worst tornado in Maryland history, with winds of more than 250 mph, swept across a 24-mile swath of Charles County. From Ripley to the town of La Plata, to Benedict on the shores of the Patuxent River, the tornado left a landscape akin to a war zone. Millions of dollars worth of devastation resulted, with more than 1,000 homes, businesses, farms and public buildings damaged. Many were destroyed or left uninhabitable. The disruption in the lives of several thousand Charles County residents is immeasurable.

In the aftermath of the tornado, however, we in Charles County truly have been blessed by an outpouring of manpower and resources from the emergency response through the ongoing recovery phase. The spirit of cooperation has been revitalizing. The cleanup effort since April 28 has been phenomenal.

We cannot say thank you often enough to the District of Columbia and the cities and counties throughout Maryland and Northern Virginia that provided our county with emergency management, law enforcement, fire, emergency and public works manpower and resources. Our hats go off to the staffs of the local, state and federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and Charles County employees who continue to work with the victims to ensure that their needs are being met. We sincerely appreciate the countless number of volunteers within our county, our state and, indeed, across the nation who have answered phones, run errands, made photocopies, delivered meals, cleared debris and stepped forward to perform any task requested of them. In addition, private individuals and businesses have donated food, supplies and money.

Although the tornado was a disaster, it has had a wonderful effect: We have made many new friends since April 28 who are helping us rebuild a better, stronger community.

MURRY D. LEVY, president





County commissioners

Charles County, Md.

D-Day minus $10 million

It is both sad and ironic that while the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va., continues to struggle with inadequate funding ("Second creditor sues D-Day Memorial board" June 11), the National World War II Memorial Fund in Washington continues to solicit more than twice the amount of money it actually needs and with slick ads featuring actor Tom Hanks, no less.

The result is that the fund already has raised more than $200 million when the actual cost of this memorial will amount to about $100 million. The indication is that any excess funds will be placed in an interest-bearing account. The yearly interest generated may total as much as $10 million to $15 million per year, which is almost half of the entire budget of the American Battle Monuments Commission, the sponsor of the National D-Day Memorial.

I have a suggestion. Why doesn't former Sen. Robert Dole, chairman of the National World War II Memorial Fund, authorize donating the relatively small amount ($10 million) needed to solve Bedford's financial problems once and for all? Then monies donated in good faith by thousands of veterans and others toward educating our future generations about the nation's incredible war effort will end up subsidizing another meaningful memorial and education center.


Rockville, Md.

Cruel and unusual punishment?

I have faithfully read The Washington Times for several years, but my present circumstance makes it a bit difficult to continue doing so. I wish I could just walk down to the newsstand and pick up a copy each day. Unfortunately, the good folks at the Powhatan Correctional Center have a problem with that. Since I'm a native Washingtonian, though, I want to keep up with The Times' excellent news coverage.

Yet I have written three letters within the last six months requesting mail subscription rates but have not heard back from the subscription department. If this letter is printed, maybe I'll finally get the subscription department's attention. (Note: I need rate information for Monday through Saturday delivery for the next year.) Many thanks.


Prisoner No. 306244

Powhatan Correctional Center

State Farm, Va.

Poles had no gas chambers, efficient or otherwise

It is of a paramount importance to remember the atrocities committed by the Nazis during World War II, so I appreciate that The Washington Times published John Eisenhower's review of an important new book by Richard Rhodes, "Masters of Death: The SS Einsatzgruppen and the Invention of the Holocaust" (Books, June 9).

However, I was stunned when I read Mr. Eisenhower's line about "clean and efficient Polish gas chambers." Undoubtedly, he knows who was responsible for the gas chambers. (Hint: It was not the Poles.) Nevertheless, such mistakes cannot be ignored, for they falsely describe history and can create harmful stereotypes. I hope such errors, however inadvertent, never again will happen in The Times.


Polish ambassador to the United States


Wanted:photographic cultural analyst

The Washington Times has reduced its international image to that of a cheap tabloid by displaying a disgusting color photo on the front page of the June 11 edition. (The photo, with the headline "Family feud," shows relatives of the defendants in a Philadelphia crack-house shooting trial exchanging blows with the relatives of the victims.) That's the image white America has long had of black Americans as street-fighting heathens.

What did the photo and its caption accomplish? Nothing, except to show blatantly the lack of editorial discretion in front-page photo selection.

I always thought the front page of a newspaper showed news of the utmost importance. In a world so filled with hunger, strife and uncertainty over our way of life, the "Family feud" photo was both trivial and inappropriate. It did nothing to help improve life but depicted the people in that photo as stupid and the editors who chose to print it as insensitive. I wonder if the Hatfields and McCoys would have made The Times' front page if they were still feuding today.


Columbia, Md.

The euro's trans-Atlantic voyage

Cuba's tourist haunt puts euro in motion" (June 3) observes that Cuba's acceptance of the euro as a valid currency is an important and timely decision. Because the majority of Cuba's tourists are European, this move will help raise revenue for the nation's ailing tourist industry. Even though the article suggested that Havana's decision is a demonstration of contempt and resentment toward the U.S. embargo on Cuba, it nonetheless has practical benefits.

It will be interesting to see if other struggling Latin American countries follow Cuba's precedent and accept the euro, thus making it vital to their economies and poising the European Union as a competitor with the United States in regional trade negotiations. The future success of the euro may determine whether more Latin American countries decide to peg their currencies to it to ensure monetary stability, as some already have done with the dollar.


Research associate

Council on Hemispheric Affairs


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