EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 8, 2012

Your view: Letters to the editor

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Think of families of fallen soldiers before using flag for political protest

To the editor:

Recently I became aware of a member of my community flying the American flag upside down as a political protest. My reaction was visceral and I became highly agitated. Later on as I calmed down, I began to reflect on the reasons I felt this way.

As a young man I served in the U.S. Army as a combat engineer in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968.

During my tour I participated in combat action. I found the body recovery operations actually worse experiences than the fighting.

Details were formed to collect the remains of our fallen brothers; no one volunteered for this gory, sickening work and our hearts went out to those chosen.The recovery was accomplished without ceremony, executed in silence except for the occasional sound of men vomiting and sobbing. Our thoughts were about the wave of misery rushing toward the fallen soldiers’ unsuspecting loved ones back home. We all imagined our own families, if our turn came.

A fellow soldier in my platoon had received orders to accompany his best friend’s body back to the United States. He was killed elsewhere in Vietnam, but his mother had requested that his best friend accompany her son’s body back home. When he returned he explained, how after the identification process, the remains were placed in a casket and draped with the American flag. The casket and that flag were honor-guarded throughout the long journey home.

The flag remains on the coffin, shielding the loved ones from the reality of what lies beneath it. At interment that flag is presented with great ceremony and reverence to that soldier’s loved ones.

When I see the flag, I see fallen friends and fellow engineers.

I imagine Billy Dean’s mother receiving the flag that draped the remains of her only child, killed on his 19th birthday. I think about William Hondel’s wife Heidi and his infant daughter, Colette, with his flag.

I see Dave Hampton, Danny Callahan, Ray Dobrzynski, Tom Murphy, Joe Wenzler, Larry Sherman and Walter “Pappy” Handy; I see their families receiving their flags.

These tear-stained flags are sacred; a flag-draped casket is the highest honor our country can pay to a veteran. Duty and honor compel me to speak out against the willful misuse of an American flag.

Martin G. Short

Atkinson, N.H.

A bigger government means a smaller you

To the editor:

If government is big, then the individual is, by definition, small.

This is a reality stated by Ben Stein in a commentary on CBS’s “Sunday Morning” program.

It fits well into the debate regarding the “fiscal cliff” our country is inching toward for a few reasons.

I had dinner with Mr. Stein over a year ago now, prior to a lecture he delivered on economics.

To my surprise, he was then, and still is now, very much in favor of taxing the wealthy. However, as his quip about government’s size indicates, it should not cost all that much to operate it anyway.

As Stein also rightly stated, government’s duty is to help those who truly cannot help themselves and maintain a standing army, not too much else.

A few months ago I wrote about a similar encounter with Steve Forbes. Steve might decry Ben’s sentiments on taxes as blasphemy.

Yet there is common ground here that most all Republicans can agree upon: the need to restrict Federal sprawl and therefore protect the rights of the individual.

This is the conversation we need to hear in Washington when discussing the “fiscal cliff”.

Ben Stein later said at dinner, as he also has done in print and on TV, that we must raise revenues and cut spending (but preferably not for the military) in order to reduce the deficit. This makes a lot of sense.

Interestingly, it is exactly the Republican proposal disregarded by the president.


It closes some $800 billion in tax loopholes rather than directly raising taxes. Strangely enough, raising taxes was part of his class-warfare campaign that helped to elect him, and Mr. Obama cannot back down now.

The Republican proposals not only make fiscal sense but also will help to protect individual liberties.

Remember, a bigger government means a smaller you.

Justin Thompson


A way for the working class to protest government spending

To the editor:

We should withhold our payroll taxes from the government in protest of excessive entitlements and other discretionary spending.

It’s the working class that is paying for the non-working classes’ benefits.

If we don’t kick in our share, there will be nothing for them. What a shame that would be. What would happen to all those programs full of fraud and abuse if we all changed our W4’s as of Jan. 1?

What if, instead of paying our income taxes as we go with payroll deductions, we set up our own accounts and direct-deposit our estimated taxes into those accounts? What if we didn’t pay a single cent on those earnings until the deadline of April 15, 2014? What a protest that would make.

Obviously our employers would still have to pay their share, but we could seriously impact the revenue stream. Without our money rolling in, the entitlement programs would have to be drastically revamped, even scrapped.

Maybe, there wouldn’t even be money to pay the legislators’ medical bills, and they would find out just exactly how expensive health insurance really is.

Cant you see those befuddled Democrats at the Statehouse all looking dumbfounded if we actually put a choke hold on their revenue stream?

We couldn’t do anything at the voting booth because everyone is allowed to vote, including those scamming the entitlement programs. However, we could do something outside the voting booth.

Who really holds the purse strings - the government or the taxpayers? Maybe it’s time for the people who are actually paying the bills to have their say.

Please join me in my protest of how taxpayer money is spent. I am going to withhold my withholding taxes for 2013.

The IRS and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will not get my money until April 15, 2014.

Judy Berezansky