Recently, a lot of attention has been given to athletes, students and others who choose to kneel or remain seated during the national anthem as a way to exercise the right to free speech and to protest racial and social problems ("High-schoolers join anthem protest," Sept. 21). I get that and their point of view is being told, but maybe the schools and the media could use this as an opportunity to examine why others choose to respect and stand for the national anthem.

There is a small cemetery near Starbuck, Minn., where the remains lie of two young men who served our country during World War II. They were nearly the same age and best friends in the class of 1942. School archive photos show the promise of their youth. They were killed only three days apart in May 1944 while serving this country in the fight to preserve our freedoms. There are countless other similar stories in communities across this nation that should be remembered and told so that we don't forget to appreciate the freedoms that we do have, and the price that has been paid.

Blaine Pederson, Starbuck, Minn.

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The national anthem only lasts a few minutes, but in that short time, it glorifies the U.S. flag. The flag still flies in a place of honor at all sporting events, from high school to the professional level. It is comical to think that by not standing or taking a knee you are making a real gesture that makes a difference. Just 30 seconds after the anthem is over, you are running out on the field to play a game, under that flag. Your participation glorifies that flag. If you really want to show the public that you're sincere about your convictions, don't play, don't glorify that flag. Quit being a poser and go to the locker room or get back on the bus. I'm a vet, and I am laughing at the hypocrisy of your feeble protests.

Bill Webster, Brooklyn Park

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Weighing in on the Colin Kaepernick national anthem protest: I would say, yes, he has divided himself from others. But it is hard to argue there is not a problem with police and people of color. The definition of "kneel" is a show or a sign of respect. Kaepernick has chosen a peaceful way to protest this. He might be disrespectful of our tradition of standing during our national anthem, but it is a protest against an issue — not the flag.

Thomas Smith, East Bethel

Star Tribune should include write-in candidates (like me)

The Star Tribune Editorial Board's policy not to consider (or find a way) to include write-in candidates for endorsement is too simple a solution. This is the time for more voices, not fewer; exclusion has impact. An August Qunnipiac poll found that 62 percent of Americans want Gary Johnson included in debates. Media gatekeepers affect the outcome of elections before one word is written, spoken on radio or watched on TV because they decide who will be allowed to speak? To be fair, that's no easy task. That said, shouldn't we tip toward inclusion? The Star Tribune should find a way allow write-in voices to be heard. Prescreen and vet ideas if you must, but then invite thoughtfulness into the process. The Editorial Board should revisit this policy. Candidates should be evaluated based on their ideas, not party affiliation or ballot status. (I point you to "The 2016 campaign: Saved by write-ins? Consider it, maybe," Opinion Exchange, Feb. 23.)

Tim Sherno, Edina

The writer is a write-in candidate in the Third Congressional District race.


Five more ideas to implement locally, immediately, easily

As the state's largest physician advocacy group, the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) shares Dr. Thomas Kottke and Dr. Charlie Fazio's outrage over exorbitant prescription drug price increases and agrees that action is needed ("Here's how we can end extortionate drug price increases," Sept. 21). Although the five ideas for change proposed are important, each would require an act of Congress — literally. The MMA recently launched an initiative called MARCH (Minnesota Action to Reduce Costs in Healthcare) to identify more immediate, local changes that could improve prescription drug affordability.

Some of our ideas:

• Improve patient understanding of prescription drug coverage. Minnesotans deserve clarity about their prescription drug benefits and cost exposure. Yet finding this information on an insurer's website can be challenging (we've tried).

• Shine more light on the middleman. Most insurers outsource the management and administration of prescription drugs to pharmacy benefit managers. These highly profitable companies negotiate rebates with drug manufactures, but are subject to very little disclosure and state oversight. Don't we deserve to know if these rebates or savings are passed on to patients and employers to lower premium costs?

• Choose medications wisely. Physicians and other prescribers must ensure that medications they prescribe are appropriate for their patients' needs. Similarly, patients need to understand that a medication may not always be in their best interest — whether that's an antibiotic for a viral illness or the most recent drug advertised on TV.

Solving the problem of high prescription drug costs will not be done overnight. Congress clearly has a role to play, but there is work we can do right here at home. Minnesota physicians look forward to partnering with others to improve access to affordable medications for our patients.

Dr. Doug Wood, Rochester

The writer is chairman of the Minnesota Medical Association Board of Trustees.

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Maybe it's time to consider a more radical solution to runaway medication prices than the five proposed by HealthPartners medical directors. Nationalize the drug industry. After all, if defense against foreign enemies requires a national government force, why not defense against diseases, replacing drug manufacturers that "are threatening the health and financial security of millions of people, especially the elderly, vulnerable and chronically ill."


Don't lump everyone in with the dodos; some cell use is needed

I abhor cellphone use when people are driving when it impacts their ability to safely control their vehicle ("Ban cellphones behind the wheel," Readers Write, Sept. 21). The problem is, not all cellphone use does this. Some of us use our phones for navigation on our jobs or have to push a single button to accept orders while on the job. Many cellphones are used for work on the road, and the professionals who do so safely should not be lumped in with the average dodo checking Facebook instead of starting on a green light. No, the rule should not be no cellphone use. It should be: "No cellphone use that impedes the driver's ability to operate their vehicle safely." That way, officers can use discretion in pulling people over and issuing tickets, and if they see a cellphone, they can make a stop, rather than having to prove that the driver was texting or using it illegally.

Jeff White, St. Paul

'Good guy,' yes — and trained

Recent comments have supported the idea of "a good guy with a gun" as being the relief (Readers Write, Sept. 22). It is important to remember that the "good guy with a gun" was a trained, off-duty police officer. I fear if we have too many armed good Samaritans ( well-meaning, but untrained), the results will likely be very unfavorable.

Professional training mattered here.

Scott Nordwall, Minneapolis