Remembering those who proudly served

Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning of summer, but it's not just about picnics and trips to the lake. It is a day to remember. A day of observance for those who have served in uniform to protect our country, our way of life. Many never came home.

More than one million American servicemen and women have died in wars that our nation has been involved in since the first colonial soldiers took up arms in 1775. They are heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Here's the story of two.

A couple of years ago, security cameras recorded Marine Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter on sentry duty outside a barracks housing 50 Marines in Ramdi, Iraq.

A large blue truck loaded with 2,000 pounds of explosives headed in their direction. Nearby Iraqi police did what most normal people facing certain death would do they fled. Not the two Marines. Knowing that they only had seconds to live, they stood their ground, fired their weapons nonstop at the truck and died in the ensuing blast. According to the security footage the men did not even step aside but actually leaned into the danger.

Lieutenant General John F. Kelly, who said their actions saved countless lives, also knows of great sacrifice. Just days before telling about the heroism of his Marines, his own son, Second Lieutenant Robert M. Kelly, was killed in action in Afghanistan.

Yes, we must honor and remember our fallen. But, it's also a day to remember those men and women who proudly served, but came away with physical and emotional scars.

Of course, there are also countless military veterans who served their country behind the scenes in support roles as mechanics, medics and cooks. They, too, often endured hardships and loneliness many miles from home.

Whether one served in World War II, Korea, the jungles of Vietnam, the Middle East or elsewhere, the stories of American heroism and sacrifice continue to resonate.

Please pause to remember them. We owe them no less.

JAMES ARWINE,

Garden City

Arwine is commander of the Eighth District, Kansas American Legion.

Arts can thrive with private aid

The arts have thrived for centuries and the industry won't just disappear if the Kansas Arts Commission goes through a structural change. With or without the KAC, Kansas has a flourishing arts community.

AFP-Kansas hopes Gov. Brownback vetoes the KAC funding because no one should be compelled to have part of their tax bill fund the tastes of those on an arts commission.

Art is in the eye of the beholder. Some may enjoy Picasso or listening to Beethoven. Others may prefer a Dogs Playing Poker painting.

Art and culture are valuable, but it's fair to point out KAC is just a small part of it all. It's a $153.5 million industry in Kansas, but last year KAC grants totaled just over $1.5 million.

KAC provides about 3.3 percent of the Topeka Symphony Orchestra's funding and last year gave $114,362 to several Wichita arts attractions, including the Wichita Art Museum, Orpheum Theatre and Wichita Symphony Orchestra. However, the symphony alone has a $2 million budget.

Such organizations already rely on private funding; they are effective at seeking it and they'll still have help. The governor established a foundation to seek donations for the arts at no taxpayer expense.

DERRICK SONTAG,

Topeka

Sontag is the Kansas State Director of Americans for Prosperity.