Every Veterans Day, I am reminded of two things: Those I served with in Vietnam who are no longer here and gave their lives in the service of our country, a painful thought, and my youngest daughter, whose birthday it is today, a joyful thought. I was drafted in 1968 into the Army as an infantry rifleman. I was nearly a battlefield statistic on several occasions, and would have left behind my wife, unborn daughter and family. I become physically ill thinking about those days and wishing I knew then what I know now. I came across a definition of an American soldier and veteran, author unknown, that I believe is worth sharing on this day of remembrance: A veteran is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to The United States of America for any amount, up to and including their life. It just can’t be said any better.
Richard K. Thompson, Roseville
Re “Why pay good and bad teachers the same?” (Viewpoints, Nov. 8): Natomas School Board trustee Micah Grant’s arguments in favor of merit pay for teachers seem well-intentioned and theoretically rational, but they are misguided. The flaw in his approach is twofold: fair and transparent assessments of classroom performance are hard to quantify, and he splits teachers into only two categories, excellent and bad. How do you pay the almost excellent? Was the teacher excellent last year, but had a bad run this year? What if the teacher seemed bad to some, but great to others? Who determines the criteria for excellent, good, fair, not quite there, and bad? When I student taught 30 years ago, a principal placed me with her “favorite” teacher, then with her “best” teacher. Neither inspired me. However, I do believe in mentor teachers being matched with newly hired teachers. The current seniority system is flawed, but Grant’s merit system would be much worse.
David Kuchera, Sacramento
Mayor Darrell Steinberg sure was busy this past week. First, he successfully negotiated a resolution to an impending teachers’ strike. Then he persuaded his county counterparts to significantly fund programs to assist the homeless. He accomplished in one week more than many of our elected officials accomplish in their full terms. In an era when so many of our elected officials seem to be causing problems, it is refreshing to have someone so committed to actually solving problems, and making Sacramento a safer and more enjoyable place to live. He deserves our thanks and support.
Gwynnae Byrd, Sacramento
Re “Remove ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ as national anthem, California NAACP urges” (sacbee.com, Nov. 7): The NAACP wants “The Star-Spangled Banner” removed as our national anthem because the author, Francis Scott Key, was a slave owner and the third stanza that is the basis for the anthem is “racist.” Two-thirds of our founding fathers were slave owners. So let’s get rid of the Constitution. The poem should be appreciated as art, not dismissed because of the personal beliefs of the author. “The Star Spangled Banner” is part of a poem about a battle that was significant in the American history, the War of 1812. The British shelled Fort McHenry for 25 hours. Francis Scott Key was in Baltimore Harbor aboard a ship, guarded by the British, forced to watch the battle. He watched “rockets red glare, bombs bursting in air.” With the dawn, he was amazed to see the American flag, not the Union Jack, flying, “o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” That is the poem and the part that has become the national anthem, a celebration of a hard-fought victory in the War of 1812. The third stanza, which refers to former slaves who were working for the British, is not part of the anthem. “The Star-Spangled Banner” symbolizes the bravery and resolve of the men who fought to keep America free and is the best choice for our anthem. We need to preserve our history, not destroy it.
Patti Gantenbein, Carmichael
The national anthem was never played at all events until World War II. Now, we are supposed to stand and remove our hats for “God Bless America” at the bottom of the seventh inning of Major League Baseball games. Colin Kaepernick took a respectful knee and started a silent, respectful protest. It is his right, just as it is constitutional to burn the U.S. flag. I drove behind a guy in his pickup truck who was flying a tattered U.S. flag. That is more disrespectful than kneeling.
George Meyer, Fair Oaks
Re “Ralph Northam’s Virginia win is a balm for jittery Democrats” (sacbee.com, Nov. 8): President Donald Trump plays to his base, but his agenda does not favor his supporters. Have these voters clamored for tax restructuring that favors the rich and corporate America, making pre-existing condition health care coverage optional, and supersizing the national debt? Obviously not. Base stalwarts need to sift through his rhetoric to see that he is lining his own pockets, and the pockets of the upper 1 percenters, at the expense of Americans. Tuesday’s election results hopefully signify America’s wake-up call to the deceitful tax and budget proposals championed by our president and his congressional enablers.
David Keneller, El Dorado Hills
Re “What are California taxpayers spending to settle sexual harassment claims? Good luck finding out” (sacbee.com, Nov. 3): Thanks for a well-researched article by Marjie Lundstrom. It shows that millions of taxpayer dollars provide hush money for government employees, agencies and legislators unable to control their impulses. This is a gross misuse of funds and shields perpetrators from consequences that would stop such activity.
Carolyn Pfanner, Davis
Re “Lawmakers ‘can’t police themselves’: How statehouses are confronting sexual harassment” (sacbee.com, Nov. 6): What is sexual harassment? If you asked 10 women, you would probably get 10 different answers. Some women are fine with hearing or telling a sexual off color joke and some aren’t. Some women don’t mind sexual office banter and some do. Some women sexually tease men and some don’t. Currently, all of those issues, plus many more, fall under the term of sexual harassment. If you don’t like what someone is saying, walk away. If someone is doing something criminal, report it to the police. We women have the strength and the power to stop or report sexual harassment incidents when they happen. If we wait 10-30 years to say something, we have let a lot more women become victims.
Olivia Case, Roseville
Re “No easy answers in Capital Stage’s unsettling custody drama ‘Luna Gale’” (sacbee.com, Nov. 1): The remarkably coarse 2.5-star rating reviewer Mitchel Benson assigned to Luna Gale was at striking odds at the experience of the play. Our devotion to the cutting edge artistry and annual play selections of Capital Stage was earned again with the wrenching performances and utterly brilliant floating staging of the work with its packed house of discerning theater lovers. Minimalist staging? Hardly. Static performances? Not. Moreover, the relevance to our region’s policy leaders, who administer Sacramento’s desperately frayed social services, demands their attendance to feel the consequences of starved caring institutions in our community. Michael Stevenson’s nuanced and profound directorial influence is distinguished here with an imperceptible evenness across the equity and non-equity actors deep engagement and passionate translation. Luna Gale is a must see.
William Bronston, Carmichael
Re “Mortgage deduction cap would hit some California home buyers” (sacbee.com, Nov. 2): Does taking away your state income tax deduction and limiting your mortgage and property tax deduction sound positive to you? How about wiping out the pre-tax benefit for child care? Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, and many of his Republican buddies in Congress think so. They think you’ll get behind “tax simplification,” even though it will cost Californians more money and hurt our housing industry. They think you won’t understand that tax reductions for the most wealthy will end up cutting medical care to millions of your family, friends and neighbors. And they think you won’t care that the big winners of the tax overhaul will be corporations and people whose estates are worth more than $11 million. The best way to prove them wrong is to call them and say “no” to a proposed overhaul that’s bad for you, our state and our nation.
David Kane, El Dorado Hills
“Tax reform” is code for breaks for people who are not in need of a break. For Paul Ryan to say that every taxpayer will get a break is misleading. The few dollars some of us will get suckers most of us into thinking it’s about the average taxpayer. A Republican Party that accuses the Democrats of lavish spending seems willing to burden the nation with a trillion-dollar deficit. This only taxes future generations. So what’s to be done? Nothing. Since money is the fuel of politics, it will roll uphill and the bills will roll downhill.
David Sady, Sacramento