Listening to John McCain's speech to the Senate on Tuesday and then President Donald Trump's remarks at his news conference, it struck me who is the true patriot of this country. While I have disagreed with McCain on many issues over the years, it is clear he has a strong conviction of what our country represents and how our elected officials should be responsible, and his actions have proved it. Trump's remarks immediately following were in such contrast ­— all about himself. That is what Trump represents. Let's hope the Senate and the House and all Americans follow the spirit of John McCain. We need it!

Linda Kelley Freivalds, Wayzata

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McCain flies into Washington to cast his vote to begin the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. His actions are such a disappointment to the many people in this country who thought he was a champion for them. I wonder if he sees the irony in his actions? I'm happy that he will have health insurance to cover the many medical issues before him.

Linda Larson, Oakdale


Another broken Trump promise, and another display of bigotry

Many years ago when I was riding a city bus every day to my parochial high school, there was an advertisement in the bus that read "ECIDUJERP — It's prejudice spelled backward. Either way it doesn't make sense."

That has stuck with me over the years. And it comes to mind again as I hear that President Donald Trump has tweeted that he wants transgender people barred from serving in the U.S. military. Today we have a volunteer army, without the universal draft that challenged us in the 1960s. Good people are serving because they choose to be a productive part of our national defense. They should be applauded, not excluded because of who they are.

We are no longer surprised by Trump's many flip-flops. In his acceptance speech at the Republican convention, he pledged to respect LGBT rights — a promise he now ignores as he suggests that transgender presence in the military is "disruptive." That's the same lame excuse used earlier to bar black Americans and women from full integration into the military.

Our president is playing to his conservative base while simultaneously satisfying his need for daily front-page attention. He's probably also hoping that this newest outrage will deflect attention from those inconvenient investigations into possible Russian collusion. Tears must be falling from the Statue of Liberty!

Curt Oliver, Brooklyn Park


No one looks good: Not the president, not the Scouts

This summer I became an Eagle Scout. On Monday, President Donald Trump spoke at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia. The president regaled his young audience with anecdotes about the 2016 election ("fake polls" and all) and assured the Scouts that they will now be able to say "Merry Christmas" during the holidays (in my 11 years in scouting, I cannot recall a time that saying "Merry Christmas" was banned).

Most disturbing, though, was not the president's politically charged speech to the Boy Scouts (despite his opening disclaimer that he would not be discussing politics at all), but the Scouts' reception of him: "We love Trump! We love Trump! We love Trump!"

The most fundamental values in scouting are stated in the Scout Law. Let's talk about three of the tenets: loyalty, kindness and courtesy. Trump told the Scouts that we could use some more loyalty. Should a Scout be loyal to a president who brags about sexual assault, dismisses civil servants as "nut jobs" and calls people who disagree with him "losers"? Should a Scout look up to anyone who displays this lack of kindness and courtesy?

Donald Trump does not embrace the Scout spirit. The Boy Scouts of America, an organization that I am a part of and respect, should not hold up our president as a role model.

John M. Vaaler, Golden Valley

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Most people have an innate understanding of where it is appropriate to use the salutation "Merry Christmas." I personally have never been offended by anyone offering me any type of holiday greeting. However, after listening to Trump's speech at the National Scout Jamboree, attended by children of different religions and ethnicities, I think I might gag the next time I hear "Merry Christmas." Thanks, Trump, for taking even that pleasantry away from me.

Mary Alice Divine, White Bear Lake


After brain-damage findings, entertainment at what cost?

After seeing the devastating results of a new study with evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) found in all but one of the 111 brains belonging to ex-NFL players and donated for research ("Strong evidence links brain trauma to NFL," July 26), then reading the headline in the sports section above an interview with new Vikings running back Dalvin Cook — "My time will come" — how could you not shiver? How does a fan not cringe after every on-field collision? How does a sports reporter not ask a player (or a coach or an owner, for that matter) in an extended Q-and-A session: Are you not concerned?

I get it; NFL players earn huge salaries, nice pensions, fame — but at what cost? As fans, we cheer 10-yard sacks and pancake blocks and goal-line stands — but at what cost?

Timothy Hennum, Minneapolis


Those in St. Paul have options; that's not true everywhere

St. Joseph's Hospital will end its maternity care (front page, July 25). At the oldest hospital in St. Paul, it's a big change, but several options for care continue to exist around the Twin Cities. Many mothers and children across the globe do not have this luxury.

The birth of a child can be the most hopeful day of a parent's life. Yet for too many, that hope is cut short: Each year millions of children die of preventable and treatable causes before they reach their fifth birthday. The Reach Every Mother and Child Act proposes reforms that ensure USAID maximizes existing investments to end unnecessary deaths. Originally announced in 2015, the bill is set to be reintroduced this year.

I just returned from Washington, where I met with U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota's Fourth District. She is an original sponsor and champion of the legislation, and her work in this area should be applauded. Encourage your representative to sign on as a cosponsor to this lifesaving bill. Every mother and child, regardless of birthplace, deserves quality care.

John Lukach, St. Paul


Day-brightener for a song

On my way to an appointment this morning, I drove past a corner nearby where two little guys were making money for a song — literally. Their hand-lettered sign read, "Song 25¢." For such a small sum from me, they would brighten my day, and the entire amount was pure profit for them. That's creativity, a touch of kindness and lot of thriftiness rolled into a touching package. Who could resist such curb appeal?

Mary McLeod, St. Paul