I guess my father was a loser, at least in the eyes of President Donald Trump (“Report: Trump disparaged U.S. war dead as ‘losers,’ ” Sept. 4). As a young U.S. Army Ranger, Dad landed on Omaha Beach during the D-Day assault. After being in combat for the next several months he stepped on a land mine while attacking a German position. He wore a prosthetic left leg for the rest of his life. When Dad served in World War II there was nothing in it for him, so he must have been a sucker as well.
Dad passed away a few years ago, but I think I know how he would describe Trump and his imaginary bone spurs: a coward.
Boyd Beccue, Monticello
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I want to take a moment to introduce Star Tribune readers to a few of the “losers” and “suckers” in my family. I address myself to them, but more directly to Trump himself. The “losers” and “suckers” in my life taught me to be forthright and direct; so I will honor them with that behavior now.
I will start with my dad, Alfred Haugen Jr. He was a sergeant in the Army’s medical corps during WWII. Among other things, he served his country proudly on Utah Beach and during the Battle of the Bulge and helped to liberate two concentration camps. He was well into his 80s when he finally asked the VA for help with his war-related injuries — he previously felt undeserving compared to his fallen comrades.
Then there is my dear father-in-law, William Watson. He was but a teenager when he joined the Marines. I wonder if you, Mr. Trump, are personally familiar with the sort of courage required to volunteer for that sort of duty, at that age.
And my equally dear uncle, Arnold Haugen. Uncle Arnie served in the Pacific Theater, but it really wasn’t a theater, Mr. Trump. At least not like any theaters you know.
They are all now deceased and it is a gross understatement to say that our families are all very proud of them. They all saw things they could never unsee, but never complained and never carried themselves with anything but pride and dignity.
So, “losers” and “suckers,” Mr. Trump? I think not. In fact, if they were alive today I suspect each of them would want nothing more than a few minutes alone with you “behind the woodshed,” as my dad used to say. Take a guess how that would go for you, Mr. Trump. Not well ... and that’s even taking into consideration that they would each be anywhere from 95 to 103 years old.
Daniel Haugen, Plymouth
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Revelations of Trump’s derogatory remarks about military service and all veterans living and dead should be the last straw in our toleration of his presidency. I hope all veterans, their families and survivors of those who died in service of their country will rise up en mass and vote to remove this man from office.
Glen Nordgaard, Edina
Rebuilding will take a civic covenant
As someone born in Minneapolis, whose family has lived in the city for four generations, I am deeply troubled by the pervasive tension, stress and hardship, and the feeling that my hometown has been rocked back on its heels.
I see the struggles of so many merely to get by, under the double hammer of a shrinking economy and a very dangerous virus. I see the homeless crowding the parks and begging at the intersections. I see the outrage of Black residents and people of color at the callous, sometimes deadly behavior of an estranged Police Department. I see the weariness of North Side and South Side residents under the constant assault of criminal gangs, shooting and killing with seeming impunity. I see a similar weariness in the eyes of overworked, maligned police officers. I see the politicians and the activists reciting their soothing platitudes or shouting their dogmatic agendas, not listening to each other.
All I can think is, what can save my city now? I believe we need to work together to create a new civic, municipal covenant. We need a set of basic principles that address the concerns of all our residents and all our public servants, not just some of them. We need to confront:
1. The corrosive, racist elements in the culture, organization and training of the Minneapolis Police Department, which tend to alienate it from the very community it is committed to serve.
2. The gang culture of guns, drugs and criminality that imposes its own oppression on our city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods, aided and abetted by systemic poverty and family dysfunction.
3. The historic, centuries-old racial bias structured into the culture and economy of Minnesota at large, which sets minority children at a disadvantage from birth.
4. The decline in civil peace and public safety; the rampant destruction of small businesses and the livelihoods they create; the malign neglect, by city bureaucracies and well-heeled corporations, of those same small businesses that are the city’s economic lifeblood.
We need a new civic covenant, which addresses all, not just some, of these problems — because they are all intertwined. And we desperately need such a citizen-based covenant — a plan, a program — because the cacophonous and divisive constellation of municipal and state authorities do not seem willing or able to take this simple leadership step on their own.
Henry Gould, Minneapolis
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What does it say about the city of Minneapolis and Hennepin County governments when they crush a 40-year-old, Black-owned, North Side hair salon that was destroyed during the George Floyd riots with a $200,000 demolition bill while offering zero assistance for her to rebuild her business? When the riots broke out, Flora Westbrooks watched as her salon was vandalized and looted beyond repair, wondering when police would respond. They never did, partially because of the widespread destruction in the city, partially because Mayor Jacob Frey failed in his fundamental duty to protect the citizens of his city. We all know that he chose to abandon the Third Precinct to the rioters rather than face them with a serious show of force. Westbrooks and her bare-bones business were one among far too many small, minority-owned businesses that paid the awful price for his feckless abandonment of his mayoral responsibilities. It’s also important to point out that leading pols, including Gov. Tim Walz and Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, showed up to commiserate with Westbrooks. Yet they haven’t given her a single cent to compensate her for her loss. On the other hand, thanks to private citizens via GoFundMe, more than $150,000 has been raised to help resurrect Flora’s Hair Designs. Lesson learned: Don’t count on Big Government to solve your problems; look to the support of your community.
Mark H. Reed, Plymouth
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What took years to build our leaders allowed to burn in minutes. It will take many years to rebuild, and it could be lost again, in minutes. Big business would have to be possessed by an extreme form of masochism to even consider contributing to any rebuilding. Target’s payment of social justice indulgences has done nothing to deter the looters from its shelves.
Rather than rehabilitating, I suggest construction of the “Mostly Peaceful Protest Memorial and Interpretive Center,” to provide residents and visitors with a sanctuary for sober reflection on a generation of monolithic Democratic rule. An exhibit could be dedicated to preaching, scolding and moral preening. Perhaps a “Blame-Shifting Reflecting Pond.” And, importantly, the media center, chronicling the mostly truthful reporting of local newspapers.
Other cities where such damage has occurred remain permanently scarred. At least our scars would stand for something.
Chip Allen, Woodbury
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