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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Kennedy was great at boosting morale

I feel so fortunate in having had the opportunity to be a friend of the late Ted Kennedy. It was during the Korean conflict, when we were assigned to the same squad for basic training at Fort Dix, N.J. He occupied the bunk next to mine and we spent many hours describing the lives we led before service as well as predictions of what was ahead for us.

He was such a remarkable morale builder for the fellow GIs in our unit. For instance, we would return to the barracks after a day of rigorous training, all of us seemingly exhausted, when Kennedy would produce a football (we never found out where he hid that ball from the sergeant). He would then proceed to cajole the men to forget their fatigue and spend a half-hour of "touch" football before chow. It did wonders for our morale, and we soon forgot our weariness.

He shared stories with me about Rose, as he affectionately referred to his mom, and how she managed mealtimes with so many Kennedys dining together. He recalled experiences in England, as a child, when his father was U.S. ambassador to the Court of St. James.

I shall treasure the memories of Kennedy and am proud to have been his friend.

J. Bruce Sherman

East Amherst

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Kennedy worked hard and made a difference

I was only a Democrat for a short time in my life when I was young, but the passing of Sen. Ted Kennedy certainly invokes reflection. When he was starting his Senate career, I was starting the first grade. I can't remember life without him.

As I watched the flood of memories unfold on television over these past few days, one recurring theme stands out glaringly. While it may be true that many of the goals and aspirations we set for ourselves don't come to pass, if we work hard every day and believe in ourselves, we can still make a difference. This could be Kennedy's most lasting legacy.

Robert G. Peterson

Hamburg

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Senator was instrumental in recovering GI remains

This is a little known incident in the career of Sen. Ted Kennedy: Darwin Judge, 18, from Iowa, and Charles McMahon, 21, from Massachusetts, were the last two Marines to die on Vietnamese soil. They were killed by a rocket at the Tan Son Nhut air base outside Saigon. It was April 29, 1975, the day of the final evacuation that marked the end of the Vietnam War.

In the chaos and confusion of that day, their bodies were taken to and kept at the mortuary of the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital. Ten months later, through the negotiating efforts of Kennedy with the new government, their remains were returned to their families for burial in the United States.

Rev. John Mergenhagen

South Wales

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Shameful record isn't worthy of canonization

The media speaking of Ted Kennedy as if he were some sort of saint is shameful. Let's set the record straight.

His letter to Soviet premier Yuri Andropov during the height of the Cold War, promising to oppose the American president, is tantamount to treason. He was, at best, guilty of negligent homicide in the drowning of Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick, if not murder. His hands are literally soaked with the blood of millions of innocent children who died to abortion, which he ardently defended. He was an adulterer who drove his wife to alcoholism. And for someone who allegedly cared so much for the poor, he sure took a lot of money to the grave with him rather than using his great wealth to assuage their suffering.

Mourning the dead is justified, but the media's canonization of Kennedy is profoundly offensive and thoroughly unmerited.

Todd S. Bindig

East Aurora

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Brotherhood will help firefighters' families

The recent tragedy of the two fallen Buffalo firefighters brings back a lot of memories. Memories that I used to dread bringing to the forefront of my mind. As I grew up and things seemed to get more complicated in dealing with the loss of my father, one thing kept my spirits up -- the fond memories I had gathered from friends, family and "brothers" of the Buffalo Fire Department about a hero I had grown to know and love through their stories. The stories helped me to understand and love the father, the man and the hero whom I did not get a chance to truly know while he was alive.

The brotherhood of the Buffalo Fire Department provided a love, understanding and comfort that I can never forget, and they did it seamlessly and without hesitation. They helped me and my family to heal and move forward, knowing that we had laid to rest an honorable, hardworking, beloved and brave man. And as the years have passed, the men and women associated with the Fire Department still continue to provide an amazing element of support.

The Croom and the McCarthy families have suffered a tragic and heartfelt loss. The road ahead will not be an easy one, especially for the young children as they grow and try to make sense of the loss of their father.

But I have the utmost confidence that the brotherhood of the Buffalo Fire Department will continue their tradition of unconditional love and support for the families of these fallen heroes. And rest assured, these men and women will truly help to make the bad memories fade and the good memories endure.

Chris Catanzaro

Buffalo

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Honor all firefighters for dedicated service

As a child growing up in the '60s, I remember the hundreds of people who would line the streets at the community parades. Everyone would applaud as firemen and police and military groups marched by.

In spite of strange looks, I have kept up the tradition, encouraging my children and grandchildren to do the same, even though no one around us seems to remember this tradition of showing our appreciation for all they do. Luckily I have never required their direct services, but I know my life and my community are enhanced and protected by their everyday bravery and service.

Not many of us hold a job that people's very lives depend on, nor do we risk our lives every day. In the recent tragedy of the loss of Lt. Charles McCarthy and Firefighter Jonathan Croom, we were reminded of their bravery and all that they risk for us. I was very moved by the sight of people lined up along the streets, clapping, as the funeral procession passed by.

Croom's mother said it best when she stated, "When people tell me I must be so proud of my son, I tell them, yes, but I was proud of him every day."

Let's remember firefighters' service every day and applaud them as they pass by at our next community parade.

Laura Wright

Amherst

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True heroes will always be the face of Buffalo

The Aug. 28 News featured three stories of local interest or grief.

Foremost was the tragedy of our two firefighters and their funeral later that day. Secondly was the court plea of hockey star Patrick Kane and his cousin. Then lastly the filming in Niagara Falls of the TV show "The Office." Let's start with the last two.

On the night of the Kanes' arrest, James Kane referred to his cousin as the face of Buffalo. Next, "Office" producer Randy Cordray referred to the actors as troupers because they "powered through" their scene on the Maid of the Mist while getting unexpectably soaked.

While professional athletes are extremely proficient at their sport, they cannot be the face of a city -- it's a game. Also actors getting really wet while pretending to be someone else are not troupers powering through anything.

Lt. Charles McCarthy and Firefighter Jonathan Croom were troupers, and all those like them are, and always will be, the face of the City of Buffalo.

Dan Smith

Cheektowaga

***

People need to take control of their health

I believe it's time to get serious about our health.

We watch endless and increasing ads on television about new drugs that will "control" some medical problem while never seeming to cure anything and then have to sit through the listing of a litany of side effects that should make one wonder how anyone could even think of taking such things. "Ask your doctor if this is right for you." Don't you already know?

It seems there is a health catastrophe looming behind every tree, and now we need inoculations to protect us? When did we get steered away from sensible choices of wholesome foods and begin to think some chemical concoction will allow us to continue to put anything we want into our stomachs and veins and never take control of our own health needs?

With giant drugstores being built on every corner, doesn't one get the idea that this is all about the money? Sure looks that way to me.

Ron Wilson

East Amherst

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It's hard to believe mayor was unaware of situation

Mayor Byron Brown's claim that he didn't know of the loan to the failed One Sunset restaurant is equivalent to the chairman of General Motors claiming he didn't know GM was losing money. It's either a lie or ignorance. It seems that when things go wrong, he claims he wasn't aware of the situation. As to his claim that he didn't influence the loan approval and just said, "I wanted this business helped," come on. He is the mayor and when he suggests something to a political appointee it is no different than a direct order.

Brown's stammering through the press conference was again an embarrassment. The fact that he has taken steps to "correct the situation" clearly shows he had some degree of oversight and was negligent, again, in being even an adequate mayor. The citizens of Buffalo finally have a choice in the upcoming election. Wake up, Buffalo, and vote for change.

Arthur L. Haberman

Eggertsville

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Why does the president need so many advisers?

Let me get this straight. President George W. Bush put eight czars on his Cabinet. The newspapers and politicians had problems with this. The same president who was called slow, dimwitted and mentally defective appointed advisers to help him and this was met with ridicule by many.

President Obama, who is praised for his intelligence, appoints 30-plus czars, and no questions are raised. So, when a president is thought of as dumb and asks for help, he is raked over the coals. But when a president is considered to be smart and places advisers in his staff, he is praised for it.

Seems there is a double standard here. If you want it at a more basic level, the pay of eight czars was a lot less than what 30-plus czars will cost the taxpayers.

Michael E. Evans

Lockport

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