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Continued: Readers Write (April 8): Immigration, executive pay, Ebert, National Anthem

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  • Last update: April 8, 2013 - 7:21 AM

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There are lessons to be learned from film critic

From the great movie critic Roger Ebert, who cherished kindness above all: “To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to communicate joy to the world. This is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”

When Ebert wrote of meeting screen legends (John Wayne, Robert Mitchum), he could be a child enthralled. When he climbed a worthy soapbox (“Grave of the Fireflies”), he could move you to tears. When his critic’s barb stung too deeply (Rob Schneider, Vincent Gallo), he publicly made amends. His 20th anniversary note to his wife, Chaz Hammelsmith, is a valentine for the ages.

Toward the end, Ebert was comforted to know his writing, teaching and broadcasting would survive his passing, and I suspect he knew the world was more gracious for his voice.

Drew Hamre, Golden Valley

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Why not save the song for major events?

An April 4 letter writer expressed disgust that the Twins and other Major League Baseball teams are no longer broadcasting the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Playing patriotic songs at baseball games became popular first during World War I, then more extensively during World War II as the large public gatherings and advanced public-address systems allowed for large-scale exhibitions of patriotism. By the time World War II ended, the national anthem was established as a pregame ritual not by a specific decision or proclamation, but more so by circumstance. Eventually other sports adopted the tradition, and now the song is played before nearly every sporting event, ranging from high school to professional.

During the many events I attend yearly, I see increasing numbers of fans and players who appear disinterested during the anthem. Is this unpatriotic? Hardly. The anthem is not played before movies, school assemblies, church services, theater performances or concerts, so why is it exclusive to sports? Sporting events are strictly entertainment; they are no longer a public gathering place where the masses are joined together in support of a war that consumes the entire nation.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” is a powerful, unique song. Perhaps we would actually show it more respect by reserving it for special occasions.

Jason Gabbert, Prior Lake

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