Memorial vandalism is a chance to teach
As a Marine Corps veteran, my first reaction to the destruction of the memorial to Navy SEAL Michael P. Murphy near Lake Ronkonkoma was similar to that of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who said he was appalled and disgusted.
Murphy’s father said the family was less interested in seeing the suspect punished than in hoping he would realize the importance of the memorial. His mother said, “I hope they educate this young man and tell him how foolish he was.”
I agree with them, and with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who sees the event as a teachable moment.
I would like the suspect to visit our disabled veterans at the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center. I’d like him to accompany me to attend a VFW, American Legion or Marine Corps League meeting. I’d like him to meet a veteran wounded at Iwo Jima in 1945, or a man who was wounded several times in Vietnam, or a college classmate of mine who endured seven years of torture as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. Perhaps whoever is brought to justice could be helped to see the error of his ways.
A 14-year-old boy has been arrested and charged with criminal mischief in the case of the memorial vandalism. Was he alone or were there other actors? Some kind of penalty must be given, but besides a punishment, this is a learning opportunity. I suggest that community service at a veterans home like the one in Stony Brook could help the perpetrator understand the nature of what was done.
James B. Calfa,Mastic Beach
As a Navy veteran, I find this egregious act to be an insult to Lt. Michael P. Murphy and all who fight for our great nation, defending what we hold most sacred. Whoever did this should be made to read a book about Murphy by Marcus Luttrell called “Lone Survivor.” Then maybe the person responsible will come to a greater understanding of what he did to the memory of a true American hero.
Frederick R. Bedell Jr.,Glen Oaks Village
Prevent another duck boat disaster
I am appalled that 17 people died sightseeing on a lake in Branson, Missouri [“Duck boats linked to fatalities since 1999,” News, July 21]. How could this amphibious boat go out after a warning of severe thunderstorms? None of the 31 passengers were even wearing life jackets.
Why weren’t there laws to prevent this from happening? This tragedy must never happen again.
In October 1952, I was a young Army artillery officer taking part in an amphibious maneuver on the Virginia coast. It included cannoneers riding in a DUKW, the military name for what civilians call duck boats. In the middle of the boat was a 105 mm howitzer cannon, as the boat drove off the ramp of a landing-ship tank into the water, engaged its propeller and rode to the beach.
It was a nerve-racking experience. The vehicle rode so deep in the water the gunwales were no more than a few inches above the ocean surface. One DUKW drove off the side of the ramp, overturned and sank with the howitzer. The gun crew, all wearing life preservers, survived.
The thought that those vehicles are used for tourist rides boggles my mind. They should be banned and destroyed.
John G. Aicher,Southold
Differences between public, private unions
A letter from the president of CSEA Long Island Region about the Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 [“Union-dues ruling is a game-changer,” July 8] failed to distinguish between private sector unions and public sector unions.
Private sector unions can benefit both the employer and employee because a motivated and well-compensated workforce might increase profits, and because exorbitant demands by either employer or employee are kept in check by a competitive marketplace.
The dynamic is quite different with public sector unions. Once past probation or when granted tenure, public sector union members are very difficult to fire. Typically, they receive yearly pay increases of 2 to 5 percent.
A large portion of the public sector union’s stream of dues is funneled into politicians’ campaign chests — the very politicians who will negotiate salaries, benefits and work conditions in the next union contract. Essentially, when public sector union contracts are negotiated, the union sits on one side of the table and friendly politicians sit on the other side. The big loser is the taxpayer who must pay the bill.
Editor’s note: The writer, a retired public school educator who was in various unions, is a member of Long Islanders for Educational Reform, an advocacy organization.