On Saturday, my husband and I drove to downtown Minneapolis to see all the hoopla going on for the Final Four. It was so much fun! Nicollet Mall was packed with happy fans (no one’s team had lost yet) and locals like us. People strolled up and down the mall or sat at tables at one of many sidewalk cafes. We got a window seat inside an Italian restaurant and spent a lovely hour or so drinking wine and people watching. Again — fun!

It was wonderful to see the mall throbbing with people and music, and I wondered why it isn’t a gathering place on summer Saturdays. Why doesn’t the city close the mall to cars and buses on summer evenings after 7 and all day Saturday and Sunday? What a great way to enjoy this street and our beautiful summertime in Minnesota.

Linda Maki, Excelsior

VETERANS

Army major’s exit essay illustrates the moral impact of serving

Kudos for publishing the story of Danny Sjursen (“I’m saying goodbye to the Army; both of us knew it was time,” Opinion Exchange, April 6). He is one of many veterans whose actual experience of participation in America’s wars “of our choosing” differs greatly from the shallow narrative so widely promoted. Listen to him. Our country will continue to unwittingly impede the healing of veterans until we create a climate in which the complicated and confusing truths spanning the range of their experiences can be told. PR experts paid with our tax money relentlessly promote the adulation of military. But brave soldiers like Maj. Sjursen know that the morality of what they’ve done really matters. VA professionals now recognize moral injury. Moral injury is the lasting physical, psychological, social and spiritual harm that results — not from mortal danger as with post-traumatic stress disorder — but from the shattering of one’s moral worldview. Psychologists explain that moral injury results from doing something, not doing something, or sometimes just witnessing activities that violate deeply held principles.

Let’s remember that the vast majority of recruits enter the military at an age before the maturation of their more sophisticated brain functioning, including empathy and moral discernment. When they are morally injured, they should not be expected to grapple alone with their wounded moral compasses. It is our duty and obligation as citizens to morally examine what we are sending our sons and daughters and dollars to do.

As the sage University of St. Thomas Prof. Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer notes: “Our [U.S.] military aren’t dying for their country. They’re dying for the indifference of their countrymen and women who can’t be bothered to pay attention to the reasons why we are sending people to war.”

Amy Blumenshine, Minneapolis

THE LEGISLATURE, PART ONE

‘Telephone CPR’ bill would ensure more happy endings like my family’s

Six months ago, my family’s story got a lot of local and national media attention (“He beats death, holds newborn son,” Star Tribune, Oct. 24, 2018). I was 39 weeks pregnant when I woke up to find my husband, Andrew, in cardiac arrest. I called 911, and lucky for us the dispatcher knew how to coach me through giving my husband hands-only CPR. While Andrew was hospitalized, I went into labor. We weren’t sure if my husband would survive, but thanks to the CPR and medical team, he did, and we are now a happy family with a healthy 6-month-old baby boy, Lennon. But not all stories have such happy endings, because not all 911 dispatchers in Minnesota are trained to coach someone through CPR, even though minutes mean the difference between life and death.

This is why I have been testifying in support of Minnesota’s “telephone CPR” bill (HF 1520/SF 1638) to ensure that all 911 dispatchers in the state are trained to either coach someone through CPR or transfer the call quickly to a dispatcher who can.

This bill sounds like an easy and obvious solution because it is. But, unfortunately, that doesn’t make its passage into law a guarantee. Wisconsin passed a similar bill last year. It’s time for Minnesota to do the same. I implore our state senators and representatives to include telephone CPR in this year’s public safety omnibus bill. I can’t imagine raising Lennon in a world without his dad. No other family should have to, either.

Ashley Goette, West St. Paul

THE LEGISLATURE, PART TWO

Earlier education in mental health is a critical need for children

There are multiple bills currently waiting in the Minnesota Legislature that are overlooked. One such bill (HF 1094), which has critical consequences and needs to be passed, proposes that mental health curriculum be provided to school districts and charter schools starting in fourth grade, as opposed to current legislation that recommends a sixth-grade starting point.

As a mental health practitioner who has worked with children in various Minnesota school districts, I cannot stress enough the importance of early mental health prevention. Mental illness can occur at any age, and many children I have worked with started receiving mental health services in fourth grade or younger. Early mental health education is essential because children will more likely recognize if they are experiencing mental health issues themselves and will have greater knowledge of support and resources. Additionally, many children know adults who experience mental illness, and through education these children will have the tools to adapt to the presence of mental illness in their lives.

Early mental health education is needed to reduce stigma and increase acceptance. The majority of fourth-graders already have negative perceptions of mental illness and on occasion are embarrassed to walk through my door because they have been told or believe they are “crazy.” With earlier education, they will have a better understanding. Passing this bill will mean that more students are comfortable walking through that door to get the needed help.

Stacey Rhyner, Minneapolis

AFTER THE FINAL FOUR

Next attention-getter? Skiing

“What comes next after the Final Four?” (Editorial, April 6.) Gold medalist Jessie Diggins and the first World Cup cross-country ski race in the U.S. since 2001 — the Super Bowl of cross-country skiing — that’s what. Minnesota plays host to the world next March 14-17 at the Fastenal Parallel 45 Festival. Youth and family events, outdoor music, Snowball in Hell (big air and crashes where cross-country skiing and fat biking meets the X Games), all culminating with the best skiers in the world going head-to-head at Theodore Wirth Park in north Minneapolis — with national and international television coverage shining a welcome light on our great state.

This is exactly the “sweet spot” event that the Itasca Project talks about: a big event that is unique to Minnesota with homegrown talent and a homegrown organization — the Loppet Foundation — running the show. And the good news is the infrastructure is already in place. Thanks to the Loppet’s fundraising efforts, our philanthropic community, and a strong partnership with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Wirth Park already has an event venue in the new Trailhead building, snowmaking and world-class ski trails. Even better, with support from Minnesota corporations like Fastenal, this can be a regular stop on the World Cup tour. All with minimal interruption to traffic and everyday life. A sweet-spot event, indeed.

John Munger, Minneapolis

The writer is executive director of the Loppet Foundation.

TRUMP’S TAX RETURNS

Obstruction of justice?

Count the number of Republicans officeholders, here in Minnesota and nationwide, who subvert the democratic process of a congressional inquiry. They, who sit idly by, or worse — like White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney — defend the president against a truth-revealing tax inquiry. (In “Politics Briefly,” April 8, Mulvaney is cited as saying that Democrats will “never” see the returns.)

As the evidence of criminal behavior creeps nearer the Oval Office, including possible tax fraud charges, the Republican defenders are one with the president, holding hands with him as they cross moral and ethical lines. This evasion of a legal democratic process (inquiry into tax law) would never be offered to ordinary citizens.

At what point do the aggressive actions of Republican officeholders to shield the president amount to obstruction of justice?

Steve Watson, Minneapolis