Pride in U.S. is diminished

Every day that passes brings us news that indicates the decline and failure of our political system. I always felt great pride for this country and the ideas expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. My parents were immigrants looking for a life that regarded each person as special and respected. The law would be applied equally and restrain criminal behavior whenever it occurred.

This was the country whose ideals we expected to be fulfilled, and it would always try to overcome the failures of the past and seek to correct the misuse of political power. The feeling of confidence was what generated my love of country and the pride that we were different from those countries ruled by leaders not restrained by law.

I, for one, no longer respect the flag and the government which has leaders who put themselves above the law and has too many citizens who go along with the betrayal of all the sacrifices of the past. Can you imagine Lincoln, Roosevelt or Eisenhower bragging about how they could kill someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it? Many of our supposed elite in this country can get away with illegal and immoral behavior. All too many, I am afraid. Lawless and immoral behavior is all too common.

Patriotism and love of country can only be restored by those who respect all persons and look to unite us as a community that adheres to the principles our founders established centuries ago. No exceptions for the wealthy or those who hold prestigious positions. Equal opportunity and justice must be our true purpose as a country.

Philip E. McGovern


Broken record of destruction

The Crittenden house being razed [“Crittenden Street home to be razed, lot subdivided,” May 9] is one with which I am familiar. The owners took in my cat when she ran away when we moved into our house in Chestnut Hill, when she was probably searching for her old home.

It is a modest house that was owned by a couple who paid great care and attention to growing a lovely garden that grew into a natural habitat for wildlife, and it circles back to a negative aspect of development that has been happening all too often in Chestnut Hill. Let’s not let this be a broken record repeat of the destruction that happened on West Chestnut Hill Avenue and Shawnee Street, or Shawnee at the West Gravers Lane farmhouse.

Particularly important are the heritage trees that are there that are at least 50 to 100 years old. They have enormous value to wildlife, so much so that they are protected by the city. Razing the landscape should not be disregarded as how it has to be, or to be stored in our Pandora’s box of urban development mistakes.

Now is the time for community members to come together and save some of these plantings. Let’s dig them up and transplant them into Chestnut Hill’s pocket parks, church yards or community centers like the Water Tower.

Let’s put into place a Garden District conservation plan! I am not begrudging development, but we should not lose our heritage of being a bedroom community to Fairmount Park. Stoneleigh neighbors took a stand, why can’t we? Yards and the landscape are not carpeted rooms, they are living breathing environments that benefits the air we breath, create homes for birds and bats that eat mosquitoes. Yards are an extension of parks that are part of the cycle of life around us.

Call Anne McNiff at CHCA and City Council representatives to ask for their help and to show your support. Show we care!

Leslie Cerf
Chestnut Hill


Failing to learn from our past

Within 2,000 years of the time our species arrived from Asia to what is now called North and South America, half of the types of animals here were eliminated by the human newcomers. When European settlers arrived on our continent, they found between three and five billion passenger pigeons that, according to Cotton Mather, would fly in flocks a mile wide that would take several hours to pass overhead; yet by 1914 we had killed them all.

Albert Schweitzer, in his book on the history of civilization, notes that the first mention of animals other than humans in Western codes of ethics occurred in the mid-19th century. Many of us receive frequent mailings reporting activities in which humans “delight” in actively hurting animals or watching animals hurt each other. These include: dogfights, bear baiting, abandoning or beating animals — dogs, cats, donkeys, horses, large cats such as tigers, and “canned” hunting in which animals, such as lions, are released into enclosures in which they will be shot by “hunters.”

We ignore the reasons we have deer in our gardens, parks and on our streets, and no longer have flocks of warblers, finches, vireos, bats and bees: There is no safe place for them to live. An article in the May 10 issue of Science asks, “Can a dire ecological warning lead to action?” The answer seems clear.

When we have destroyed what we need to survive and we become either extinct or revert to small tribes, we will also have killed the real and fictional things we have created, some of which were wonderful. It seems sad that denial will probably continue to be our major way of thinking.

George L. Spaeth
Chestnut Hill


Kate Smith and Thomas Jefferson

I read with interest letters in the May 2 issue by Ellen Deacon and Waju Akiwowo, taking the late Kate Smith to task very strongly for some offensive lyrics in a song she sang many, many years ago. Ms. Smith more than made up for that in her outspokenness against divisive racial attitudes later in her life.

That said, would the above-mentioned letter writers approve of removing the images of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison from our coinage and legal tender, as well, in order to match the removal of Ms. Smith’s statue by the Flyers organization?

The aforementioned men, while not singers of offensive lyrics, were all slaveholders.

Lawrence H. Geller