Vietnam War still killing Americans

I thoroughly enjoyed John Colgan-Davis’ comprehensive take on the “1968” exhibit running at the Constitution Center. I too attended it recently and was struck by the stark differences between the colorful pop culture happening in the States back then and the horrible war in Vietnam. It is a war that continues to kill, maim and divide Americans to this day.

Three of my closest boyhood friends got drafted and sent to Vietnam. One was killed in action, another experienced health problems caused by Agent Orange and died this year, and another, who suffered from alcoholism, also passed away recently. Multiply this by hundreds of thousands, and you’ve got some idea of the scope of the tragedy. All because America shipped its lives, its fortunes and its sacred honor off to a war in which it had no business being in.

I used to think that since millions of Americans from all walks of life had risen up in protest against the war, politicians would never again dare put our young people in harm’s way for no good reason.

So much for wishful thinking. Saddam Hussein was no more of a threat to us than was Ho Chi Minh, but that didn’t prevent America from being duped into yet another pointless, endless offensive. What’s next, Syria? Iran? If we really want to honor our veterans, we should learn from our mistakes instead of repeating them.

Jim Harris



More than words on gun epidemic

From our President to the editor of the Local, from politicians and media commentators to letter-writers to the Local, there has been no shortage of strongly felt opinions about the death of Treyvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Gun laws, the justice system, self-defense, vigilante justice, community watch patrols, racism – there’s also no shortage of important, sensitive topics that the Martin-Zimmerman case has raised and that will continue to be debated in the months ahead.

I want to call attention, however, to a local organization that doesn’t just offer opinions about such topics but campaigns daily against the scourge of gun violence of which the Martin-Zimmerman case is a part. Neighborhood Partners To End Gun Violence (NPEG) is a grassroots, faith-based coalition of people and religious institutions in Northwest Philadelphia who have formed a chapter of Heeding God’s Call.

The names say it all: local people of many faiths and faith traditions banding together to do their part in stemming the relentless gun violence that pervades our society (there have been over 8000 murders by guns since the Sandy Hook slaughter).

NPEG is faith-on-its-feet, faith in action—demonstrating against straw purchasing at the gun shops that are the source of the illegal weapons responsible for the vast majority of gun murders; holding services of remembrance and calls to action side-by-side with the families of gun victims at the sites of murders in the city; organizing rallies and putting on educational programs to marshal support for the ongoing effort to end gun violence.

Should not more of us, if not all of us, do more than shake our heads, wring our hands, and simply decry the horrific loss of life to guns and the shattering of the hearts and lives of those left behind? Joining us is one effective way to do more.

Robert Fles

Chestnut Hill

Co-Coordinator of NPEG


A good beating (or murder) will fix your opinion

Perhaps if Mr. Joseph C. Wylie, whose recent letter lauds your absurd July 18 Editorial – “A law that creates vigilantes” – which, like Mr. Wylie, quite ingenuously, totally mischaracterizes the law at issue in the George Zimmerman murder trial, gets his head smashed into a sidewalk a few times by a cracker hater or has his son murdered for his iPod, he’ll change his position.

Joseph A. Ferry



A grant appreciated

The Five Fridays series of chamber music concerts at St. Paul’s Chestnut Hill got a wonderful boost from the Chestnut Hill Community Association and Community Fund this week in the form of a grant that will support top quality music in Chestnut Hill, with proceeds to benefit two charities: Face to Face Germantown, a social service agency, and Interfaith Hospitality Network, which transitions homeless families to permanent housing.

We are very grateful for the support from the CHCA, as well as from our other sponsors in Chestnut Hill and Center City. Our first concert is Oct. 4 at 7:30 p.m. in the newly redesigned area at the rear of St. Paul’s sanctuary. Information on the program can be found at Performers from Astral Artists will play in the most intimate setting available outside of a home concert. Classical music lovers, come and enjoy the music and reception following the concert.

Jim Bondelid