Dear Mr. President:
I would like to be named secretary of Veterans Affairs. What are my qualifications for the job? I am a veteran who has probably used every benefit offered by the VA except the burial benefit, and I would like to delay that one for a while. It wouldn’t be hard to vet me because I’m a vet. (That’s a joke, sir.)
I was just an enlisted man, a private first class, who was trained in complaining about military procedures and waiting. I am sure that skill would carry over to the VA. In the Army, I also dug a lot of latrines, so I have a pile of experience dealing with any crap that may be involved with cleaning up the VA system.
I have voiced my concerns about the VA for more than 30 years, but no one has gotten back to me yet.
I can screw things up just as well as any high-paid executive or government official you may consider for the position.
Don’t thank me for my service. It was a pleasure serving so you didn’t have to go and die. I hope you got those bone spurs fixed or bought a good pair of orthotics.
I await your call, Mr. President.
Tim Connelly, Richfield
PATRICK HENRY HIGH
Here we go again with this business of stripping legacies
This country and culture has lost its ever-loving mind. Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis may be renamed because its current namesake, a Virginia politician and Revolutionary War-era leader famous for saying “Give me liberty or give me death,” once owned slaves (local section, April 27).
Henry was honored in name because of his contributions in founding this nation: his bravery, his valor, his intelligence and his deep love of country. It is more important that he be ignored for his transgressions in a time when that was not considered to be “with it” according to modern values.
Quite frankly, I’m angered by small groups of people who demand changes to everything they don’t like, without having the courage to discuss and debate their views. To me this is the height of narcissism. At least Henry built a nation, and even though it is not perfect, it is better than has ever existed in the history of this planet. Groups like the one seeking the name change do nothing but create division, and add nothing.
Mark Daniels, Apple Valley
• • •
Students at Patrick Henry High School will have an opportunity to study Henry’s legacy as they consider removing his name from their school. He was an early opponent to the import of slaves and one of the first to call for a human bill of rights.
In “Lion of Liberty: Patrick Henry and the Call to a New Nation,” historian Harlow Giles Unger wrote the following: “The conflict of his moral opposition to slavery and his ownership of slaves tore at Patrick Henry’s heart and mind throughout his life. Although he acquired only slaves attached to farmlands he purchased, he rued his ownership of other humans and could not reconcile it with his moral and religious beliefs.”
To remove his name on this basis, we would also have to erase Washington’s and Jefferson’s names from every public building.
Richard Cornell, St. Paul
Do your part to prevent: Clean out your medicine cabinet
I’m sure everyone has heard it all before: The opioid epidemic doesn’t discriminate; anyone could become addicted to opioids; many people don’t even know when someone is struggling with an addiction. It’s all old news.
I lost my son to a heroin overdose after a two-year battle with addiction. I wish I had taken the above phrases more seriously then, because they are all true. My family’s story is not that different from any others. My son started with prescription opioid painkillers. He took them out of our home medicine cabinet. They had been prescribed to me following back surgery and we had kept them around “just in case.” We did not realize how risky this could be. I’ll bet many people reading this letter have a similar bottle in their medicine cabinet. I can tell you right now that “just in case” is not worth it.
This past Saturday was National Drug Take Back Day, when local law enforcement offices accept expired or unused medications for disposal. I hope everyone cleaned out their cabinets and got rid of every half-used bottle they were holding on to for “just in case.” If you didn’t do that, I want you to know that you don’t have to wait for the next Take Back Day (which is in October). There are many disposal options available that you can use today and every day to make your home safer.
Some police departments and pharmacies have year-round take-back boxes where you can drop off unneeded medications. If there isn’t a take-back box near you, there are in-home drug deactivation kits available. Deactivation kits like the Deterra pouch are easy to use and effective, rendering medications inert and unavailable for abuse and safe for your household trash.
I miss my son every day, so I try and do something to raise awareness about addiction and how to prevent it in his memory. I hope this letter will convince a few people to make their homes a little bit safer by cleaning out their medicine cabinets.
Lori Lewis, Oakdale
Kurt Daudt makes clear: A sliver of the population runs things
I was astonished by Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt’s statement that no new gun legislation should be passed in the state without the approval of the NRA (“Senate rejects last-ditch try for gun limits,” April 27).
The membership of the NRA represents only 2 percent of the U.S. population. Why should this group be given veto power over new laws in our state? On the bell curve of public opinion on gun policy, I think it’s safe to say they are at the extreme end, not in the middle of the bell with the majority. Only 7 percent of gun owners are members of the NRA.
Minnesotans all know friends, family or neighbors who enjoy hunting. More Minnesotans own guns than don’t. At the same time, the majority of Minnesotans (9 out of 10 in a recent Star Tribune Minnesota Poll) want mandatory criminal background checks. They want to at least attempt to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of the criminal and the mentally unstable. For the safety of their loved ones.
Would universal background checks make a difference? I guess we’ll never know. We’ll never know about the efficacy of that idea or any of the other solutions that have slashed the prevalence of gun homicides and mass shootings in other countries, because the NRA has made it abundantly clear that it will approve no new gun restrictions of any kind. And, according to Daudt, they are in charge here in Minnesota. Not me. And not you.
Emily Aldrich, St. Paul
LINE 3 OIL PIPELINE PROPOSAL
Please, let me pay at the pump
So, Enbridge CEO Al Monaco (Business, April 27) says replacing Line 3 in its existing location might cause gasoline price increases (instead of “opening a new region of lakes, rivers, and wild rice waters to environmental degradation from possible oil spills”)?
Fine by me. Where’s my purse?
Mary Bowman, Minnetonka