A Time to Honor Veterans

No matter how you feel about the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, all of us should be united in one way. As Americans, all of us must show our support for the troops who are putting their lives on the line in these wars and for those who have already served there and returned.

Veterans Day is Nov. 11 every year. Unlike Presidents' Day or some other holidays, it is not gerrymandered to create a three-day weekend. . . .

I do not like it when people refer to Veterans Day as a holiday. It is not.

It is a day to honor all of our veterans who selflessly preserved our freedoms in these current wars as well as past wars and international conflicts. This year, Veterans Day just happens to fall on a Friday. I'm sure some people are reveling in the fact that they will get a three-day weekend. That would be disappointing.

It is my hope that all Americans will take time out of their days to remember the supreme sacrifice made by current and past members of the military.

A few weeks ago, I attended the funeral of my dear friend Durwood Wiley, a World War II veteran who remained active fighting for veterans' benefits and issues until the day he died. Durwood was the type of unassuming but forceful advocate for his fellow veterans whom I really admire. He was a great veteran and a great American.

Something I am particularly proud to do each Veterans Day is show my support for our brave men and women in the military by presenting Senate Citations at the annual Veterans Day Parade and Memorial Wreath Laying Ceremony in downtown Leonardtown. The citations recognize the sacrifices and valor of selected military personnel every year. This year, I will be proud to hand out citations of recognition to several people who have worked so hard over the years to make the Leonardtown parade a success. I will also present citations to wounded veterans who have come back from the war in Iraq and will be visiting us from Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

This is the least I can do to honor their supreme service to our country.

You can do your part to honor the brave men and women in our military on this solemn day in many ways. There are numerous Veterans Day events being held throughout Southern Maryland, including but not limited to the Leonardtown parade and wreath laying. Local ceremonies are also being held in Charlotte Hall, on the Calvert County Courthouse green and at the Cheltenham Veterans Cemetery. . . . In Calvert County, American Legion Post 274 is holding its annual ceremony on the courthouse green from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

Your attendance at any of these events will show the veterans on hand that you greatly appreciate the sacrifice they have made on your behalf.

Sen. Roy P. Dyson

(D-St. Mary's)

Great Mills

Scouts Hold Food Drive

Each night more than 13 million children go to bed hungry in our country. Families on limited incomes don't have well-balanced diets. It has become a way of life for too many of our citizens.

Last year the citizens of St. Mary's and Calvert counties donated more than 31,000 pounds of food during the annual Scouting for Food drive. I know it will be harder this year -- many residents have been asked to contribute to help the victims of Katrina, Rita and Wilma. But this time they are being asked to help the citizens of our counties.

By yesterday, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts from the Western Shore District were to have distributed bags for the annual Scouting for Food Campaign to homes all over Calvert and St. Mary's counties. Then this Saturday Scouts will go back to those homes and, it is hoped, find these bags filled with nonperishable food items. This food will be given to food banks and soup kitchens in both counties.

Our council's goal is 1 million pounds of food. Last year we collected 845,000 pounds. Please help us make our goal and, at the same time, help us to feed the neediest -- the children of our counties.

Phyllis Krasnokutsky

Scouting for Food Coordinator

Western Shore District

of the BSA

The following letter appeared in the Extra last Sunday. Because of an editing error, the last name of one of the writers was misspelled and the writers' town of residence was misstated. The writers are from La Plata. The letter appears below with the correct information.

Field Should Be Preserved

The Charles County Board of Commissioners has gone on record as approving the destruction of the last green space in downtown La Plata and making the county seat's already horrific traffic problem seem trifling. It has accepted the recommendation to build a new county office building on the site of the Charles Street soccer field. It is difficult to imagine a worse decision.

First, let's set the record straight. This was an athletics site long before it became La Plata High School's first football field in 1954. There was, I believe, a soccer league there, and the field was also used for the junior and senior high schools' physical education programs.

Second, let's recognize the fact that county government will grow. How long before the [proposed] "Greek-Revival-style building with . . . two levels of underground parking" becomes inadequate? Considering the continued growth in this area, this is a situation that is sure to be repeated, a problem that will recur in another 20 years.

Third, it would be interesting to hear an explanation of how and where vehicles would enter and exit the underground parking garage. Traffic in present-day La Plata approaches gridlock several times every business day. Additional stoplights on Route 301 and the relocation of shopping centers have created traffic backups on Washington Avenue from Charles Street to Hawthorne Drive. The addition to Civista Medical Center will add to the congestion. If we want La Plata to be more than a government center, thought must be given to traffic problems.

Finally, this is 2005, and telecommuting is alive and well. People can work from home, and technology can bring together leaders across vast distances without requiring them to leave their business sites. If e-mail and faxes and even the telephone did not exist, it might justify keeping county offices nearby. But the idea that it is "appealing" to remain in the heart of La Plata in no way balances the enormous physical and aesthetic problems this building would create.

Leonardtown has preserved its charming town square and Indian Head its spacious and much-used village green. Let us urge our elected officials to show equal care for the preservation of this small, open and unpaved green space in La Plata.

Verna Kordack

Cecelia Petri

La Plata