Every week, The Post runs a collection of letters of readers’ grievances — pointing out grammatical mistakes, missing coverage and inconsistencies. These letters tell us what we did wrong and, occasionally, offer praise. Here, we present this week’s Free for All letters.

Inexcusable omissions

Theresa Vargas’s Nov. 12 Metro column, “Stories of service beyond Code Talkers,” discussed the honor that we owe to Native Americans who have served their country through the years. I thought it was particularly appropriate timing, as we had just celebrated Veterans Day.

Vargas wrote about the Smithsonian’s memorial to Native American veterans and what it means to those who served. Post readers may not know, however, that the Smithsonian deliberately left off the memorial any mention of two groups of Native American veterans. I am referring specifically to Native Americans who have served in the U.S. Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Men and women from these two organizations have served alongside their military counterparts in every conflict since World War I, and they are recognized as veterans under federal law, entitled to all the rights and privileges of all other veterans — except being recognized by the Smithsonian.

The Smithsonian fully understood that these veterans were being left off the memorial, and it made a deliberate decision to omit any mention of them from the memorial, which was supposed to honor all Native American veterans. I am not a Native American, and I served in the Army, but I know many Native American veterans who served in these two little-known uniformed services, and I am embarrassed that the Smithsonian, a great American institution, would deliberately insult these men and women and minimize their service to our country.

James Tyson Currie, Alexandria

The writer was executive director of the Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S. Public Health Service.

Untold pain

As a happily married straight (former) Catholic mother of two wonderful children, I found myself utterly repulsed by the obituary for Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr., “Pentecostal pastor was fiery spiritual adviser to Trump” [Nov. 12].

Though I understand this was an obituary, I thought the text reeked of the arrogance of this pseudo-religious hatemonger who clearly “played God” and used Christ’s universal message of love and tolerance to blasphemously claim he — a mere faulty human being — had the right to judge “in the name of Jesus.” I see nothing “moral” in propagating hate and imposing your “religious” views on others. 

The people quoted in this obituary, such as Tony Evans, wiggle around Jackson’s hatred to excuse it. 

I wish the obituary had included comments from the thousands — or more — people who might have been affected by the relentless, blind hatred peddled by Jackson and how it affected them.

The obituary should have acknowledged that pain.

Camille Grosdidier, Washington

We really are Marshall

Thanks for publishing John Feinstein’s Nov. 15 commentary, “On 50th anniversary of tragic plane crash, Marshall carries on and remembers” [Sports], the story of the 50th anniversary of the Marshall University football team plane crash. The story was welcome and warm. The crash and loss were a huge catastrophe that affected the city immensely. My family lived in Huntington, W.Va., at the time. It affected everyone who lived there. My five boys were in grade school, and many of their classmates were among the 27 children orphaned.

The city and the university have recovered remarkably and still remember and honor those we lost with ceremonies such as described. The Memorial Fountain is iconic. The university has grown and added many new schools and degrees. It is the centerpiece and the fame of the city of Huntington.

My five sons have nine degrees from Marshall, and I earned two more. Their spouses have four degrees, so the family total is 15. I recently served a term on the alumni board in gratitude for my family’s successful lives.

Kathleen Reedy Kowalski, North Bethesda

Local boy makes very good

In addition to the Wilmington, Del., railroad station being named for President-elect Joe Biden, there are two other landmarks in the state named for the president-elect that should be noted.

The Biden Environmental Training Center located in Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Del., and, most notably and familiar to those who travel to New York and Philadelphia and points north on Interstate 95, the Delaware House Travel Plaza/Service Area in Newark was dedicated in September 2018 as the Joseph R. Biden Welcome Center. 

Mark Weinstein, North Potomac

Home state of these others, too

My wife and I retired to Milton in Lower Slower Delaware (LSD) more than three years ago and love the wonderful town and state we found. After reading the nice Nov. 18 Style article “For Delaware, this is big,” I was struck by the facts that I knew and those I didn’t know. 

What surprised me were those that were missing such as that Milton is the hometown of Bryan Stevenson, who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a national organization that challenges bias against the poor and minorities in the criminal justice system. Stevenson was also the subject of the recent movie “Just Mercy” based on his book of the same title, and he will be honored by the Milton Community Foundation with a plaque near the town historical museum. 

Milton is also the hometown of rising country star Jimmie Allen. Finally, the article mentioned that Delaware was a slave border state, but it failed to mention that the state stayed with the Union by a one-vote margin in the state legislature, the vote of a Dover legislator. Thanks to The Post for featuring our new home state.

Allen Benson, Milton, Del.

Red wolves hither and yawn

Stephen Nash’s Nov. 22 Local Opinions essay, “Bring red wolves to Virginia,” offered a sympathetic argument to restore this endangered species to parts of its former habitat. However, the accompanying photograph of an individual wolf — mouth agape, teeth on full display — reminded at least one reader of that dread exchange between Little Red Riding Hood and her nemesis. “Oh, Grandmother! What big teeth you have!” And that wolf’s reply, “All the better to eat you with!” Surely a photo of the beautiful red wolf with its mouth shut would have better served Nash’s message.

Martin Ford, Laurel

Local know-it-all makes good

As a frequent viewer of “Jeopardy!” over the years and a fan of Alex Trebek, I quite enjoyed reading the Nov. 19 Style article “America’s host.” However, I was disappointed not to see Eddie Timanus’s name among those interviewed. Not only did Timanus win five games in October 1999, but also he was the first blind “Jeopardy!” contestant. And, most important for local readers, he lives in the Washington area. A missed opportunity to provide some local flavor.

Stephen Gold, McLean

The dog stars

John Kelly mentioned in his Nov. 24 Metro column, “For these pets, inspiration for their names came in many forms,” Bill Schneider naming his dog Procy after the main star in the constellation Canis Minor: Procyon. In the Nov. 16 KidsPost article “Why winter is such a cool time to see the stars twinkle,” Jason Bittel quoted Diane Turnshek on naming her dog Procyon after the same constellation. Quite a coincidence.

Maybe, for the love of dogs, this will be a good harbinger of a better 2021.

Jim Getts, Annandale


I couldn’t have been more pleased to read (and in many cases reread) on Thanksgiving morning the inspiring stories in the Inspired Life section. I have often been critical of all media for sharing too many depressing stories and neglecting the amazing good around us.  

Bernice Breslau, Chevy Chase

No thanks

Robin Givhan’s Nov. 25 news column, “Christmas tree, turkey pardon: The Trumps obliged,” was disgraceful. She used the Thanksgiving turkey ceremony and the arrival of the White House Christmas tree as an excuse to spew gratuitous insults at the president and first lady.

This is where our country is. Even holidays are just occasions for venomous partisan attacks.

Collin Agee, Falls Church

More than Just Neighbors

We at Just Neighbors Inc. are grateful for the recognition provided for our services by the Catalogue for Philanthropy and doubly grateful that the Nov. 26 editorial “Local initiatives to the rescue” highlighted us in its Thanksgiving applause for local initiatives that are giving back.

On reviewing our write-up in the catalogue, we note that an update is required: Our services now encompass a much larger footprint. We now serve all of Virginia (focusing especially on the underserved areas of the Eastern Shore and the rural areas along the Interstate 81 corridor); and through a merger with the Maryland-D.C. affiliate organization Justice for Our Neighbors, we now also serve the D.C. and Maryland segments of the Washington area. 

The opportunity to serve even more clients will be enhanced if (when!) the Biden administration fully reinstates the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. We will be prepared to respond to the need across the region.

Joseph A. Keyes Jr., Annandale

The writer is the chair of the Board of Directors of Just Neighbors Inc.

Unstuffed shirts in unstriped pants

The Nov. 16 obituary for the esteemed Ambassador Edward J. Perkins, “First Black ambassador to South Africa opened federal ranks to minorities,” included this: “ ‘When we began our careers in the 1970s, the Foreign Service was an exclusive club: overwhelmingly white, male and Ivy League-educated, filled with stuffed shirts in striped pants attending swanky cocktail parties,’ Dr. Perkins and Thomas R. Pickering, who was a onetime U.N. ambassador like Dr. Perkins, wrote in a commentary published in The Washington Post in 2015.”

I joined the Foreign Service in 1965 as part of a class of 26: 25 White men and one White woman. The Foreign Service was overwhelmingly White and overwhelmingly male.

But like most of my colleagues, I was not Ivy League-educated.

By the 1970s, my wife, two young children and I were into our sixth year at various posts in Africa. None of my colleagues was a stuffed shirt. I did not own a pair of striped pants, and swanky cocktail parties were nonexistent.

Criticize where criticism is due, but let’s not mislead.

Philip Brown, Chevy Chase

Seeing the light in 'Dark Secrets'

As a longtime fan of the Sunday crossword in The Washington Post Magazine, I must say that the Nov. 22 puzzle caught me by surprise. I’m used to a puzzle with a few extra letters added to some of the clues and maybe a tricky meta-answer that takes me a while to figure out. Still, most weeks, I’ve got the whole thing complete before the sun rises on the following Monday morning.

Not that week! “Dark Secrets” was truly a work of stealthy ingenuity by creator Evan Birnholz. Per its title, the puzzle left me in the dark until early Sunday afternoon, when I finally was able to remove the blinders and see the light. Without giving anything away (as some readers may not have yet cracked the code), I have to say how challenged, impressed and ultimately satisfied I was with this one. Even when the lightbulb went off in my head and the hidden nature of the puzzle was revealed, it still took me a long time to find my way out of the woods and finish it off.

Congrats, and thank you, to Birnholz and The Post for such an enlightening experience!

Mitch Katz, Falls Church

Dizzy with gratitude

Michael Dirda’s tender review of the ghosts of Thanksgivings past, calling up some dozen writers who explored “spiritual desolation” or “terribly, wholly unfair and heartbreaking” family events or “youthful passion,” writers whose work, Dirda says, “sometimes keep me company on long evenings” [“Memoirs capture an autumnal sentiment,” Style], was a touchstone to a Washington Post issue I want to savor. It was full of eloquence; every section ruminated on families in profound and touching ways.

For example, three Opinion columns were startlingly personal, those by Marc A. Thiessen about his heroic mother [“My mother’s fight for freedom”]; by Sosha Lewis about the brother she wished she could have saved [“My brother reached out from addiction. I wish I could go back.”]; and Leana S. Wen’s clear-eyed and compassionate discussion of schoolchildren and their teachers and parents [“Most schools should close and stay closed”].

The Metro section offered John Kelly’s delightful rendition of Dizzy Gillespie’s dinners with local musicians thanks to a generous, welcoming mother of one [“Fond memories of dinners with Dizzy”], and there was the article on volunteers making meals for isolated strangers. Yes, there was still appalling news, including the front-page photograph of cars twisting to forever for meals; there are reports on mistaken judgments (no need to enumerate) and devastating prophecies balanced against tentative hopes for release from the pain and illness that have darkened the year, but I give Thanksgiving for those whose memories and visions remind us of the human ties that will, with the help of God, eventually bring us back into the light.

Eleanor Elson Heginbotham, North Bethesda

Beyond 'White male privilege'

Robin Givhan was spot-on when she wrote in her Nov. 18 news column, “Trump is golfing and exercising White male privilege,” that President Trump is a “man full of himself.” And though she rightly identified the pervasiveness of “White male privilege,” applying it to the president’s behavior is imprecise at best. Many White male presidential candidates and presidents — notably Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Al Gore — readily recognized the will of the voters and put patriotism ahead of personal feelings.

The soon-to-be-former president’s actions, which include Twitter tantrums and fitful firings, are driven by something much deeper — and far more sinister — than race and gender can account for.

James Devitt, Larchmont, N.Y.

Toora loora toora loora nay

As a Paul Weller fan, I enjoyed the Nov. 22 Arts & Style article “Anarchy in the U.K. — but make it stylish.” However, co-founder Mick Talbot had not been in the Jam with Weller. He had been keyboardist with the Merton Parkas, Dexys Midnight Runners and the Bureau. A career that was muddling along was splendidly revived by Weller’s approach to partner with him in his new band.

Jeremy Waxman, Canterbury, England

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