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Purple Hearts: Back From Iraq

Dear Editors,

The current show in New York at the Jen Bekman Gallery by New York photographer Nina Berman is a sobering picture of war. The portraits in the gallery were published as a book, Purple Hearts: Back From Iraq. One of the more shocking photographs to emerge from the Iraq war was taken last year in a rural farm town. It’s a studio portrait of a young Illinois couple on their wedding day. Here is the description as reported in the New York Times:

“The bride, Renee Kline, 21, is dressed in a traditional white gown and holds a bouquet of scarlet flowers. The groom, Ty Ziegel, 24, a former Marine sergeant, wears his dress uniform, decorated with combat medals, including a Purple Heart. Her expression is unsmiling, maybe grave. His, as he looks toward her, is hard to read: his dead-white face is all but featureless, with no nose and no chin, as blank as a pullover mask.

Two years earlier, while in Iraq as a Marine Corps reservist, Mr. Ziegel had been trapped in a burning truck after a suicide bomber’s attack. The heat melted the flesh from his face. At Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas he underwent 19 rounds of surgery. His shattered skull was replaced by a plastic dome, and a face was constructed more or less from scratch with salvaged tissue, holes left where his ears and nose had been.”

Vietnam vet and Agent Orange survivor Mike Collins sent me the article, adding this: “If we took the unthinkable off the table, do you suppose we would be more diplomatic?”

I don’t think so. I can give you the rational arguments based on strategy, costs, risks and unintended consequences why this war was America’s biggest foreign policy disaster since Vietnam, and why we need to get all of our troops home – now. But logic rarely prevails in the Land of OZ.

Furthermore, those rational reasons don’t hold a candle to the stark reminder of what war does to those brave men and women we – yes we, all of us – put in harm’s way.

Disappointingly, Sen. Warner thinks by just bringing 5,000 troops home by Christmas we will have “signaled” to the Iraqi government we mean business.  What kind of strategy is that? How many more Purple

Hearts will it take, Sen. Warner?

They don’t get it in Washington, D.C., so we need to push wisdom from the bottom up.

That is why on July 31, locally elected officials from across the nation with Bring the Troops Home resolutions went to the White House with resolutions in hand and media in tow to deliver city and town level demands for an end to the war in Iraq. (To watch how the White House treated our local officials, go to: http: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfOZO0y9JgI )

And that is why on Sept. 4, your Durango City Council will have the courage to join over 300 other communities to debate and, hopefully, pass a resolution against the Iraq war.  

For those that think it is not their job, listen and act upon the advice of Mark Twain:

“...the citizen who thinks he sees that the commonwealth’s political clothes are worn out, and yet holds his peace and does not agitate for a new suit, is disloyal; he is a traitor.”

– James Callard, Durango

Beer goggling at the future

Dear Editors,

When I read Barbara Powers letter (Herald, Aug. 13) about a Rice-A-Roni style trolley running up and down Main I nearly choked on my Pinstripe, but after starting in on my second six pack I thought “Hey, why not?” Only take it to another level, we’ll build an elevated mono-rail, not one that just serves downtown, but all of town. We could charge admission to Durango like Disney World does and as a bonus, those 300-pound Texans won’t be dripping sweat on our shiny new sidewalks. I sat back, took another sip and pondered our new mass transit system/amusement park; it could even run out to Bodo Park so I wouldn’t have to ride my bicycle up the hill to dollar pint night. Then my thoughts turned sour when I pictured our beloved downtown Durango being turned into a yuppie-filled pedestrian mall just like Boulder’s or Aspen’s and immediately my Home Slice garlic chicken special started to churn inside my stomach. I raced to the kitchen, chugged down another cold Ska and then stuck my head under the kitchen faucet, this quickly returned me to my senses. As I stood there dripping wet it came to me, don’t spend $4 million of tax payer money on sidewalks, just buy some yellow paint and concrete patch, leave the parking the way it is, patch the cracks in the sidewalks, use the paint to turn one of the four lanes on main into two bike paths, (one in each direction for those of you on your third six pack), put in a center lane only for service vehicle use, have one traffic lane each direction with no turns on or off Main except at Sixth, Ninth and the Camino end.

However, being a part-time realist, I understand some people might not stand for not closing down part of Main, so go ahead shut it down between Fifth and Sixth, (nobody wants to drive into that mess anyway). This new area would allow for the dazed train riders to congregate instead of along the other parts of Main’s sidewalks. OK stay with me, take some of the money saved and hire full-time downtown enforcement to hand out tickets for jay walking, speeding and noise violation. This would quickly cause the 50 or so people who continually race up and down Main Street either in a compact car with those mufflers that sound like they’re rattling loose, or a huge smoke spewing crew cab turbo diesel pickup, or a motorcycle with 120 Dbl straight pipes that they can’t quit goosing, to go elsewhere. Now take the rest of the money saved and start immediately buying whatever open space is left before another developer who couldn’t give a crap about what happens to Durango gets a hold of it and puts up more of those million dollar-per-unit condo complexes…But most of all, if you love it here, stop trying to turn Durango into what you left behind.  

P.S. For the price of a couple of Carvers’ growlers and a College Café cinnamon roll, I’d be happy to draw this design up and save the city another $250,000. This additional money could be then used to figure how to make the bus system that hardly anyone rides work, but that’s another story that’s going to take another six pack or two to plan out and I have to work overtime tomorrow so I can afford to live here.

– Bruce Kuhn, Durango

Getting into hot water

Dear Editors,

I was surprised, caught off guard and ultimately perplexed to be asked to cover my naked 1-year-old this past Sunday afternoon at Trimble Hot Springs. We have a family membership there, and without even thinking about it, thank goodness, we undress our baby boy after soaking, allowing him to be free of a wet suit and diaper in order to dry off and experience the natural and healthy state of being naked. I was shocked that the desk manager approached us and told me that I needed to put something on our 1-year-old. I refused to accommodate to her enforcement of this “rule” and her claim that “people were complaining.” I doubted that her claim was true and believe so as this establishment has been seemingly leaning more toward accommodating tourists rather Durango families.

There is also the smart business idea of making changes based on popular demand. If one or two people complain about the nakedness of a baby, perhaps we should question their discomfort rather than the majority’s acceptance. Go to Trimble on any day of the week and see who the paying customers are, a plethora of moms and kids.

I feel that along with the changes made as a result of the new ownership, some necessary and appreciated, a few priorities have gone askew. For example, there is a large sign that reminds us that there are no toys allowed in the therapy pools and calls for quietness. I understand keeping the therapy pools relaxing for people, however a friend’s 1-year-old was asked to “shhhh” after making squealing noises of delight in the warm pool. Chalk it up to a lack of developmental understanding. Asking a 1-year old to squelch sounds of joy is like asking the sun to not rise.

In contradiction, the last three times I have been to Trimble, there has been someone smoking on the premises. There are a few “no smoking” signs and a friend has complained several times to the front desk and has waited in vain hoping to witness a reminder of the rules to the smoker. Tell me, which is more offensive and intrusive, someone smoking or the cuteness of a baby’s naked body, stumbling around in the grass, just learning to walk? It is a sad day when we think this offensive. To Trimble Hot Springs managers and administration: It is simply not wise to make those who are supporting your business, local residents who are members for the long run, to feel uncomfortable or belittled.

– Sheryl McGourty, via e-mail

An unintentional insult

Dear Community:

The Women’s Health Coalition of Southwest Colorado unintentionally created pain for a breast cancer survivor as we sought artists willing to help raise funds for a very special cause – financial assistance for women in breast and cervical cancer treatment living in the Four Corners. For this we apologize. This is our 13th year to plan an event during Breast Cancer Awareness Month honoring survivors of breast cancer. Our aim at the “Pink Ribbon Affair” on Oct. 12 is to celebrate women who have survived this dreadful disease while bringing joy and laughter to all in attendance.

The Women’s Health Coalition includes health-care providers, cancer survivors and concerned women. Our mission is to educate all women about the importance of breast health and promote early detection through annual screenings and self-breast exams.

Two years ago we recognized that we could do more. At the “Pink Ribbon Affair,” with the help of Durango Quilters’ Guild, we contributed to a state fund available for cancer patients. Last year, we established a local fund with the Community Foundation that is available to area residents. Since its establishment, we have assisted three women with cancer.

Artists have accepted our challenge, as have Durango’s hair stylists and the Ignacio volleyball teams. Terene Foutz, a coach in the Ignacio schools, has her teams playing the Navajo Prep School on Tues., Oct. 9, with $1 from each ticket donated to our fund. Regina Roark of Shampoo last year colored pink streaks in her customers’ hair in return for $10 which was donated to our cause. This year she has challenged other hair stylists to do the same.

We only hope that all who read this letter know we intended no pain to any woman with the whimsical theme of “boobs & bras” for the art work. Instead please join us in our celebration and help us support women in breast cancer treatment.

– B.J. Boucher, member, Women’s Health Coalition of SW Colorado

The call for a community park

Dear Editors,

Why a community park for Durango? The citizens of Durango have worked for many years to create a large park that can meet the needs of our community. I have been involved in this endeavor as a member of the Parks and Forestry Advisory Board since this concept was brought to us by various groups in 2000. We toured six possible locations and recommended the Grandview site after careful study. A Regional Park Steering Committee was formed in 2001 with 23 members from the city, county, school district, representatives from many organized sports groups, and several city boards. After several years, they came up with a plan for a larger park to meet the recreational needs of the area. Finally, in 2006, after annexation of the Grandview area, a parcel was donated by Three Springs; design consultants were hired to conduct a public process to plan the actual park. In November 2006, the final master plan was completed. Throughout this entire process, the City Council, citizens and staff were heavily involved. Starting with a study session in November 2000 through approval of all expenditures along the way, the City Council was aware of this concept and very supportive.

To: all of the groups who spent so many hours developing this plan; parents and children; softball players (the FLC fields and the softball program will be gone in a few years); anyone interested in the kids of our community experiencing the benefits of team sports and mentoring; merchants, restaurant and motel owners who benefit from tournaments in the shoulder seasons; those of you who feel that with the $70 million (or up to $100 million with grant matches—or more if the sales tax estimates are low) to be generated from the 2A measure we can fund this community park; and people who find spending millions on sidewalks, but shortchanging our kids a bit strange – contact your city councilors and let them know what your priorities are and what is important to you.

We can afford open space, trails, develop neighborhood parks, AND a large community park that would serve all the citizens for many years to come.

– Sandy Burke, Durango

Noise saves lives

Dear Editors,

With the Harleys approaching there has been a lot of discussion about noise in Durango. The advocates of racket claim that “loud pipes save lives,” and when they rev their engines, it is to alert other vehicles of their presence as a safety precaution. By that argument, bicycles should have every right to make their own oppressively loud uproar as a defense from motorists. So, this weekend, I propose all bicycle riders should mount air horns on their handlebars and blow them off every time a Harley comes near; just for safety.

– Paul Iverson, Durango

America’s evolutionary evangelist

Dear Editors,

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango, 419 San Juan Dr., will host “How Science Will Usher Religion into Its Greatness” by the Rev. Michael Dowd at 10 a.m., Sun., Sept. 2. Rev. Dowd, a former anti-evolution fundamentalist, is best known today as “America’s evolutionary evangelist.” He will share concepts developed in his lasted book Thank God for Evolution! which offers a resolution to the divisive debate that has polarized public discourse on evolution since Darwin’s time. Already endorsed by five Nobel laureates, Dowd’s book promises to build bridges between science and religion by proclaiming a gospel that is billions of years old. Dowd said, “People across the religious and philosophical spectrum are waking up to the fact that cosmic, biological and human history is our shared sacred epic, our common creation story.” I invite all who are interested to hear Rev. Dowd’s presentation. For additional information, visit http: //thankgodforevolution.com/ and http://www.durangouu.org/.

– Ron Garst, president, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango


In this week's issue...

July 18, 2024
Rebuilding Craig

Agreement helps carve a path forward for town long dependent on coal

July 11, 2024
Reining it in

Amid rise in complaints, City embarks on renewed campaign to educate dog owners

July 11, 2024
Rolling retro

Vintage bikes get their day to shine with upcoming swap and sale