My great-grandmother was 4 years old on Dec. 7, 1864, living with her mother and two siblings in Hastings when her father, James Payton, was killed by a Confederate cannon ball. He had written to his wife that he was willing to die "because a patriot loves his country more than himself." He gave everything to help this country, and his family suffered greatly.

President Donald Trump has once again dishonored the memory of those soldiers who gave their lives fighting for the United States of America. Instead of praising the soldiers who fought for the U.S., he spent time telling his fans in Bemidji, Minn., about the greatness of a Confederate general who tried to destroy the U.S. ("Trump extols Lee to state that saved union," Sept. 20.) He made it clear he intends to continue his fight to maintain the statues of the men responsible for the deaths of 626 Minnesota soldiers.

It is shameful that monuments were put up in this country to honor the traitors who killed James Payton and many other loyal Americans. And it is shameful that the monuments have stood for so long.

Dishonoring dead U.S. soldiers does not "make America great." And those Republican leaders who don't speak out are also dishonoring those soldiers' sacrifice. Shame on you.

Janet Werness, Minneapolis
• • •

On July 2, 1863, the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment suffered 82% casualties preserving the Union line off Cemetery Ridge — still the largest loss ever by a surviving U.S. military unit in a single day's engagement. In 1928 Calvin Coolidge said that "those eight companies of the First Minnesota are entitled to rank as the saviors of their country."

Trump stood in Bemidji in front of adoring fans singing the praises of Robert E. Lee while bemoaning the loss of Confederate statues around the country. Apparently the audience was too ignorant of its own state's history to know that the mere mention of Lee should elicit boos, not cheers.

Tearing down statues of people who took up arms against the United States doesn't destroy our history. Failing to learn about it does.

John Whyte, Eagan

• • •

Most of us who went to school here know that the First Minnesota Infantry saved the day at Gettysburg by blunting a charge that could have ended in disaster for the Union. The regiment suffered a horrendous casualty rate. I've been trying to forecast Trump's next campaign stop and I think I have it: Visit a group of Native Americans in Montana or the Dakotas and praise George Armstrong Custer.

James Dunn, Edina

Some indeed work with the 'least'

To the letter writer who thought Catholics would be more persuasive about right-to-life issues if they were more attentive to the least among us, I couldn't help but think of the Little Sisters of the Poor and how they have served the impoverished elderly among us in the United States since 1868. ("Contrary to the view of two vocal priests, I can be both things," Sept. 20.) Rather than valuing over a century of positive contributions for the poor and elderly (the least among us), the Obama/Biden administration sued them and kept them in court for years for not providing free contraception for their employees. Fortunately they survived this legal challenge (so far) and continue to serve the elderly poor. Of course there are many other laudable Catholic/Christian social services in the community that provide assistance to at-risk populations and individual churches/temples/faith organizations with their own missions and resources for those in need.

Respectfully, perhaps the writer can consider this perspective when evaluating the bona fides of pro-life Catholics, especially since some are vulnerable to attack by the most powerful leaders in the country. She said she was listening. I hope so.

Julie Packer, Coon Rapids
• • •

I found the comments related to Democratic Catholics very impressive, intelligent and well thought out. How refreshing to hear a point of view involving religion stated so eloquently.

I was raised in the Catholic religion during a time that didn't encourage question or debate. As an adult I am generally anti-organized religion. So often I see organized religion used as a cover for depravity and controlling behavior, or as an excuse for remaining ignorant about issues that should be discussed openly and realistically.

Thank you to the writer for giving us something to think about, for responding rather than reacting, and for being ready to listen.

Rebecca Seidenkranz, Cannon Falls, Minn.

We don't compare to those places

The Sept. 20 letter regarding Gov. Tim Walz's leadership on COVID is comparing apples to oranges. Using Wikipedia as my source, the populations of Queensland, Australia; British Columbia, Canada; and Minnesota are similar. However, land areas for these places, in square miles, are listed as: Queensland, 668,200; British Columbia, 357,216; and Minnesota, 79,610. This makes Queensland about twice the size of British Columbia and British Columbia about four times that of Minnesota, giving them much lower population densities. So, if Walz could have spread all Minnesotans over an area the size of Queensland, he probably wouldn't have 93,000 cases either.

Gale Livezey, Minnetonka
• • •

Regarding the letter writer on Sept. 20 who said Steve Sack's cartoon from Sept. 13 could have easily been about Walz rather than President Donald Trump: The writer decries Walz's lack of leadership in fighting the virus. The writer asks why Queensland and British Columbia have much lower cases and deaths from the virus than we do. My question: Why can't people in Minnesota have access to frequent testing, agree to contact tracing, and follow quarantine guidelines like Queensland and B.C.? We have fellow citizens who think an emergency declaration for wearing masks in public settings during a pandemic is an affront to their civil liberties. Groups have sued Walz because of the mask mandate. Republicans are blocking Walz appointees because of his use of the emergency powers to combat the virus in Minnesota. How is that being more concerned with the bottom line than his fellow humans, as the letter writer stated?

If you want to know why our virus rates are higher than B.C. and Queensland, ask the people in our state who refuse to wear a mask nor practice social distancing at all (Trump rally). With no federal leadership, states are forced to create policies in that vacuum. Walz chose to lead, and too many Minnesotans and Senate Republicans are choosing not to follow, at our collective peril.

Mark Dunnett, Lakeville

Nostalgia is delightful, but so is working heat and air conditioning

I was a Metro Transit bus driver from 1987 to 1997. Naturally, then, I was positively delighted to travel down "nostalgia lane" on Sunday with the storied history of the '70s- and '80s-era red MTC buses — specifically the GMC TDH-5105, GMC TDH-5303 and GMC TDH-6666. ("Driving down Nostalgia Lane in a crimson chariot," Sept. 20.)

The trip took a sudden swerve unto "confusion curve" when I noticed the MTC bus in the accompanying photo. It was a Flxible (correct spelling) 53102-8-1, Flxible 111C-DO6-1 or Flxible 11C-DO5-1. Mistake a Flxible for a GMC? Wow.

The subsequent white-liveried MAN, Scania and Gillig buses didn't look nearly as impressive, but they had air conditioning that worked, a heating system that actually kept the interior warm and — get this — power steering.

The writer worries about broaching the subject of red buses for fear of "triggering the bus nerds." I sure hope that doesn't happen.

Galen Naber, Roseville

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