Driving home last night, I was overcome with the sights and sounds of neighborhood kids and parents playing "kick the can," a group of young men playing soccer and intergenerational groups grilling at Minnehaha Park. It all seemed so normal, but it felt new and easy, and it was so beautiful.

Thank you, residents of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis for getting vaccinated in such large numbers. We have all been given back the priceless gift of being together.

Liz Strom Knutson, Minneapolis

•••

So I walk into my dentist's office, ready for a cleaning. Everyone I see is masked, as am I. I fill out the required form stating that I have no COVID symptoms, have been fully vaccinated and haven't been out of the country in the last few weeks (years, really). I meet a new hygienist and settle into the chair. We chat in the limited way possible with her hands in my mouth. It's April 2021, we both declare that we've gotten through the COVID months safely. We've been vaccinated, I say, have you?

"Oh, no," she says. "I don't believe in that stuff. I take hydroxychloroquine."

I am stunned. I ask to see the dentist. When he comes in, I notice that he is tightly masked and that the hygienist's blue paper mask is only loosely worn. I convey to him my distress that I was not told that the hygienist has not been vaccinated.

"That's her choice," he says. The conversation is brief, and he conveys no concern for me. I get out of the chair and leave.

Her choice, yes, and the dentist's choice to employ her. However, if I must declare details of my COVID status before I am treated, do I not deserve to know the COVID status of those who intend to treat me? Do I not have the choice to know — as they do?

Elizabeth McGarry, Edina

•••

No, contrary to a recent letter writer, I don't remember Democrats going after then-President Donald Trump for suggesting that COVID-19 may have been released from a lab in China.What I do remember is Democrats requesting evidence that this was the case.And I don't remember him being labeled a racist for that statement, but I do remember him being so labeled for his numerous tirades during which he called the pandemic the "China Virus" and "Kung Flu" in the context of race baiting.Which, we were to later see, worked as intended when the current wave of attacks on Asians, for their perceived responsibility for the virus, began.I also remember him saying that the virus would disappear, "like a miracle," without scientific evidence to back up that claim. I also remember when, recently, the Mike Pompeo-led effort to try to prove the conjecture that it came out of the Wuhan lab was shut down due to its blatantly political, unscientific, low quality of investigative work. And today we are seeing a long-overdue effort to investigate the origins of the pandemic based on facts, not politics. This in the face of extreme noncooperation from China, which has been the case all along.This investigation may not be able to positively uncover the facts, but that would have been the case a year ago, too.

And, by the way, on this Memorial Day week, as we honor our fallen soldiers, I am offended anew by the memory of Trump refusing to join other nations' leaders in visiting the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery because it was raining.And further justifying his refusal to make the trip by saying, according to reporting in the Atlantic, "Why should I go to that cemetery?It's filled with losers."

Lewis Wolf, Bloomington

CHAUVIN'S SENTENCE

The longer the better

I strongly believe that former police officer Derek Chauvin deserves to be imprisoned for the rest of his life ("Chauvin choices: No jail or 30 years," front page, June 3). He deliberately chose to murder George Floyd in front of a large audience of civilians, including children. He completely ignored his sworn responsibilities as a police officer and apparently ignored the other officers who tried to intervene and save Floyd's life. As a registered nurse who saw many horrors in my nursing career, I have never seen someone murdered, publicly, with profound suffering evidenced by his begging to be relieved of the torture, repeatedly saying he couldn't breathe and finally calling out to his mama.

I spent my career trying to ease the suffering of the sick. I am still traumatized by watching Chauvin murder Floyd in cold blood. If what he did doesn't deserve a long sentence, nothing does.

Lynne Simon Ploetz, Annandale

TRASH POLICY

Patience, Eaganites — it works

I would like to thank a recent letter writer for giving reasons in favor of Eagan's new "pack in, pack out" trash experiment in some parks ("Bigger shift required," Readers Write, June 2). The Star Tribune has done no favors to this effort in writing two articles, on April 9 and June 1, presenting only the complaints of a small but vocal group of residents who are not willing to even give this effort a try ("Eagan plan for park trash gets pushback" and "Critics say Eagan's plan for park trash is garbage"). I am a "master recycler/composter" and have a passion for being a steward of God's creation by diverting waste from landfills.

I spend winters on St. Simon's Island, Ga. Prior to three years ago our beach was lined with paired trash and recycling containers every few feet. They were used interchangeably, making the recycling effort meaningless. Litter was everywhere. Three years ago all bins were removed from the beach and either eliminated or concentrated in a central trash/recycling area in the parking lot. Cries of protest erupted, just as they have in Eagan. Counterintuitively, all aspects of waste collection improved. There is far less litter on the beach. Waste is much more likely to be sorted correctly into trash and recycling. There are no more cries of protest. People adapted. When trash bins are available everywhere, people mindlessly toss all waste into that convenient bin. When not so readily available, having to think about where it will be disposed of forces more correct decisions. So, Eagan residents, I would challenge you to look beyond your personal convenience to the multiple financial and environmental benefits of this experiment and give it a chance.

Sandy Scott, Eagan

UFOS

Down here, senator

Wednesday's editorial quotes U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio urging the use of scientific research to resolve issues that are literally out of this world: UFOs ("Looking forward to that UFO report"). He says he wants "a place where this is cataloged and constantly analyzed, until we get some answers. Maybe it has a very simple answer. Maybe it doesn't."

Back on our planet, we could use a little of the same out of Washington regarding the documented events of Jan. 6, the risks of the return of COVID or the next pandemic, and other pressing concerns of average Americans outside the Beltway.

William Levin, Minneapolis

•••

Given the wild separation of what are considered facts depending on your politicization (space lasers?), UFOs add another layer of incredulity. Given the size of the universe it's mind-bogglingly arrogant to assume we are the only planet with intelligent (?) life. Imagine the international drama if an alien civilization actually revealed themselves as a power. Like kicking over an anthill. Would Earthlings be in the position of the Indigenous populations of this hemisphere 400 years ago? Or would our alien friends be more like E.T.? Mork? Or those in "Close Encounters"?

My own preference would be like the humanlike, naive, good-natured and clueless alien scout in the rather deep Indian rom-com movie "PK" (which means "tipsy" in Hindi) who gets stuck in India after his remote gets stolen by a local. Unable to return home without it, he's told only God can help him. With no concept of God, he runs afoul of all religions trying to get an answer and gets us a look at blind faith and ourselves in the process.

Let's hope it's like that, anyway!

Michael Alan Mayer, Lakeville

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