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IT'S A CRIME TO SLIGHT VOLUNTEERS

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Reggie Keaton, the television personality from Williamsville, has been a volunteer at the Veterans Administration Hospital on Bailey Avenue for more than 20 years.

A few months ago a new patient at the hospital upset Ms. Keaton when he asked, "What crime did they find you guilty of?" The man was under the impression that every volunteer in the hospital was doing "community service" ordered by a judge.

A hospital spokesman said none of the volunteers is there as the result of criminal sentencing. "There were such people in the hospital about three years ago," the spokesman said, "but there are none now."

That is good news for Ms. Keaton. But she believes, as do many of us, that there should be a new name for the community service performed by convicts. How about compulsory service or involuntary service?

Kenneth Rummenie of Buffalo asks why the Dallas sports marketing firm that said few Americans had heard of the World University games should lie. He added: "Dallas is not competing with Buffalo for any major sporting event. And didn't they report that the Olympic Festival in San Antonio (in Texas, last I heard) ranked even lower than the Games. Pretty good proof of fairness, I'd say.

"Considering that you seemed to back my opinion of Olympics when citing a letter of mine on the subject, I'm surprised you're beating the drums for the Games. They're just a minor-league version of same foolishness: athletes, with their endless border-hopping, eliminate any basis for fan identification, playing games that allegedly increase mutual understanding in the countries of the world -- just as the last three Super Bowls increased Buffalonians' understanding of New York, Washington and Dallas.

"Those Games will put Buffalo on the map, the way they put Sheffield (where have you heard of that city apart from Games publicity?) on the map, and will bring economic benefit to Buffalo -- yes, to the hotel and restaurant owners, while we get stuck with the bill. We can increase understanding by developing a World Peace Corps, not by playing games amid Dick Clark's razzle-dazzle while the world bleeds to death."

I didn't say the Texans lied, I said I thought I heard an ax grinding in the background and wondered about the identity of the people they polled. That was asked after the respondents listed Mary Lou Retton and Dorothy Hamill as our country's two most popular athletes.

Of course, I don't believe that competition in sports prevents wars. My feeling is that because the Games are coming here, I would like to see the organizers dismay the doomsayers.

Erie County American Legion Cmdr. Herbert Williams advises that the Legion will hold its annual Memorial Day Saturday at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church on Edison Street at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

In Sunday's column I will list many of the Memorial Day events that will be staged on Monday, the official holiday.

Morris Silverman of Buffalo, a former combat medic, was upset because the combat medic badge was not in the picture taken for the Vietnam Veterans Leadership story of May 16.

The medals shown were all won by Steve Banko III, Western New York's most decorated Vietnam hero, and he didn't win the Combat Medic badge. He certainly admires such medics, as do I.

More than a few readers missed my declaration that I pass notices of school and military reunions along to Olaf Fub unless they have a situation of interest to more people than those involved in the reunion.

Several readers complained because they weren't given credit for correct trivia answers. They weren't used because they missed the deadline.

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