We Minnesotans are encouraged — practically demanded — to accept diversity and embrace the cultural differences of all. The state accommodates our newest immigrants by providing various state forms, including written driver’s tests, in Hmong, Spanish, Vietnamese, Somali, Russian, Cambodian, Lao and more. Per the Minnesota Department of Education website, “Students who are identified as English Learners should be served in an instructional program designed for English Learners.”

Why then are the Swedish cities of our state denied the proper spelling of their names on highway signs (“Lindström seeks Swede deal on dots,” April 12)? Minnesota has been known as primarily Scandinavian since the 1850s, when the majority of settlers were from Sweden and Norway. Germans, Danes, Irish, Polish, Scots, Welsh and English joined the Swedes and Norwegians to make Minnesota a true melting pot in the greatest tradition of America. Our newest immigrants from Mexico, Vietnam, Laos, Somalia and more have added spice to our diversity, and I, for one, welcome them with open arms. But, please, while we welcome our newest Minnesotans, allow us to retain our cultural history. Give us our umlauts.

Julie English, New Hope

• • •

Last week I was pulling out of the back of Southtown Mall in Bloomington. The short cross street that runs between the Red Lobster and Sonic is Morgan Circle. The main thoroughfare that runs across much of Bloomington is American Boulevard. The Morgan Circle sign attached overhead to the traffic-light structure was large and read “Morgan Circle.” The American Boulevard sign was about a third the size and read “Am Blvd.”

Since when did traffic managers start abbreviating the word “American”? Give Lindström its umlauts, and fix the American Boulevard sign while you are at it.

Teresa Maki, Minnetonka


A little rain goes a long way for ag, and the wrong way elsewhere

Much of south-central and southeastern Minnesota was blessed with an abundance of April showers over the last week. In many instances, rain amounts were more than 2 inches. In observing the results, one sees that nearly all of it soaked into farmers’ soil and very little made it to ditches, streams, lakes or rivers. Yet these same rains fell on nonagricultural land, especially parking lots around malls, commercial sites, roads and bridges, resulting in the immediate runoff of millions of gallons of water through streets or storm sewers. Once this water runs off, it does not stop until it enter creeks, streams or rivers. This water is contaminated with winter de-icer salt and sand, and remnants of antifreeze, oil and transmission fluid from vehicles that park on these hard-surface facilities. Road de-icer, while necessary for the most part to make travel safe, also ends up in our public waters.

Gov. Mark Dayton and his water-quality team need to address and admit that water pollution is not just ag-land based. I would suggest, for example, that the governor propose that Target Corp. also install 50 feet of grass filter strips around each of its stores in Minnesota.

Not only would these strips stop much of the parking lot runoff, if it were done on the massive scale proposed for the ag community, it would beautify the areas around stores, malls and commercial property. To paraphrase Dayton, we all have to take responsibility for clean water.

Mark S. Nowak, Wells, Minn.



It complements and doesn’t replace the Stars and Stripes

In response to “Law would run new flag up pole” (April 11): I must ask why the Honor and Remember flag is considered a veteran’s issue. Veterans don’t have a closed market on grief, loss and sacrifice. This flag is in recognition for the families who have lost their loved ones to war. In fact, this flag could be viewed as an antiwar statement, because it reminds us of the cost of sending young soldiers off to battle.

I happen to be a combat veteran who served in Vietnam, and I’m in favor of this important symbol for our KIA (killed in action). This special flag should have existed since America’s earliest wars and is in no way intended to replace, or be used in lieu of, the flag I fought under and friends died under — the Stars and Stripes. (Though I do wish it would have been available to give the families of the 21 friends I have on the Wall in Washington, D.C.)

Veterans, of all citizens, should support this flag 100 percent. For many of them, it could have been their parents deserving of this special recognition.

Mike MacDonald, St. Louis Park

The writer is president of the 28th Infantry Regiment Association.



Editorial offered no solutions, but here’s one, for starters

The April 9 editorial deploring childhood poverty failed to mention one obvious means to reduce many of the deplorable conditions the Star Tribune Editorial Board so rightly worries about. How about urging the state to be more proactive in providing free contraceptives or other means of birth control?

Harry Teder, Excelsior



A cacophonous juxtaposition on Monday’s Opinion Exchange

A strange juxtaposition occurred on the April 13 Opinion Exchange page. Underneath a personal essay by Catherine Watson (“Waiting out a long, cold storm”) was a cartoon panel featuring a George Bernard Shaw quotation about experiencing happiness. Shaw himself is pictured in a crosshatched pen-and-ink drawing showing him in early-20th-century sartorial elegance, his sharp eyes staring into the near distance, his vest buttoned up to his cravat and starched collar.

In the quotation, he contrasts the happiness of a believer to that of a skeptic, using an analogy of drunkenness contrasted with sobriety to tell the reader that, “The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality of happiness, and by no means a necessity of life.”

The contrast in this point of view to Watson’s lyrical meditation on being caught in a sudden, violent storm in a historical hotel in Cuba, then hearing the haunting rendition of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” is like a slap in the face to a reader mesmerized by the beauty of Watson’s insights into the long, 20th-century storm of our diplomatic war with Cuba.

Putting aside the acerbic wit of Shaw, one sees how Watson’s use of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” and the song’s message of the brotherhood of man shines a light on Shaw’s shallow vision of man’s need to merely survive in life. According to Shaw, we do not need transcendence, emotional feelings, or the aesthetic of music in our lives. Doubt or skepticism and a superior condescension is enough.

Mary Joan Meagher, Burnsville