Military veterans deserve recognition

I'm a Vietnam War-era veteran.

My name is not among the 47,434 killed in battle, the 153,303 wounded in action or the uncounted thousands with physiological scars from that war. But I was affected.

I served next door in South Korea in 1965 and 1966. We had our hands full guarding the Demilitarized Zone that divided Korea in half. It was a war zone with land mines buried everywhere, but only an occasional skirmish took place.

After 13 months, I rotated back to the States. While processing through Oakland, Calif., I was shocked to see many of my returning comrades from the Pacific Theater throwing their duffel bags, field gear and uniforms into collection bins. They knew their return home wouldn't be celebrated. To wear military dress would only make them a target of name calling by their own countrymen.

Such were the times.

As the anti-war, anti-government movement grew bigger and louder, I thought about how great it would have been to have served my country during World War II, like my uncle Claude Lancaster, and to have returned home to a grateful nation.

While a college student, I saw military recruiters banned from campus. That bothered me. I was proud of my military service. It had provided me with structure and was now helping me pay for my education.

OK, fast-forward to today.

Thank God, the story is different. Our returning soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are once again being welcomed back as heroes. That's the way it should be. And it is not surprising that many of these flag-waving, community rallies are being spearheaded by Vietnam veterans who remember how degrading it was to be shunned, cursed and spat on. Many continue to serve their communities as members of the American Legion.

Please display the Stars and Stripes this Veterans Day and recognize those who served in all wars and returned home, as well as those who served and died for you.


Garden City

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

Community should denounce dumping

I was saddened and disgusted upon reading the front-page article by Shajia Ahmad in the Oct. 22 Telegram concerning the dumping of refuse, etc., in the dry bed of the Arkansas River along the southern border of Garden City. It is a horrendous example of people in and around the community (from how far are they willing to truck broken washers and dryers?) feeling out of connection with a general community spirit of mutual support and of pride for who and what we are. Not only does this dumping destroy the appearance and health of the land, it also provides unacceptable hazards to those people using the riverbed for various forms of recreation. These recreation possibilities are themselves good additions to a positive community spirit.

A posted sign will not deter these individuals. They must be made to understand that the community will not tolerate such behavior, that this behavior is destructive and hurtful to the positive lifestyle a majority of Garden City-ers wish to live under. The question, "how can this behavior be turned around?" is one I hope the city leaders will look hard at. I believe most members of the community are as dismayed as I by such indiscriminate destruction of our landscape and want our leadership to recognize that perhaps current responses are not sufficient. This would appear to be a good test of the resolve of city leadership to create a community anxious to grow into the 21st century known as a good place to live.


Garden City