Thoughts on the war and a few events here at home

April 22, 2004|by BOB MAGINNIS

Odds and ends from a columnist's notebook:

After the attack on four contracted security personnel in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, my reaction to seeing televised pictures of burned Americans' bodies being dragged through the streets was an emotional one.

Gas 'em, I thought, or drop one of those massive percussion bombs that flattens everything for miles around. That'll get their attention.

But when I cooled off a bit, I realized that a massive, indiscriminate response is just what Saddam Hussein would have done if a group of people in one city had defied him. "Collateral damage" would not have mattered, as long as the resistance had been put down.


The comparisons of Iraq to Vietnam are generally off the mark, but it's a great credit to the professionalism of today's American troops that no emotional slaughter of innocent people has taken place.

That's not to say that no civilians have died, but to my knowledge, no U.S. soldier has reacted to the death of a comrade by spraying a taunting crowd with gunfire.

The difficult task that U.S. forces have is to control Iraq without brutalizing the population, a population that may interpret the present strategy as weakness.

In that light, the tough question is: Can the U.S. demonstrate resolve without being brutal in the process? Perhaps, if the nation can avoid putting the tough decisions in the hands of ignorant, emotional people like me.

William Princeton Young, the Washington County School Board member appointed to fill the term of Doris Nipps, did not win re-election to that seat. But that doesn't mean he's given up on helping Washington County's young people.

Earlier this month, The Herald-Mail reported that Young has donated his $4,800 School Board salary (after taxes) to fund eight $500 scholarships.

The scholarships are targeted at minority students now attending Washington County high schools - and at Washington County high school graduates now in college.

If you're a minority student in college and would like to apply for a scholarship, write to Young for an application at 17817 Greentree Terrace, Hagerstown, MD 21740.

Do it quickly if you're interested because applications are due back by May 15.

I don't normally do lost-and-found items, but recently I got a call from Carl Landry, head of security at J.C. Penney in the Valley Mall.

Recently, a class ring from a school in Petersburg, Va., was turned in at the store, Landry said, adding that it's inscribed with the initials "LEM."

It might have been lost by someone visiting a relative in the Hagerstown area, Landry said. If it's not claimed eventually, they'll have to dispose of it, he said.

If you've got a clue as to whose ring this is, give Landry a call at 301-582-3700.

Summer is coming, and as any teacher will tell you, students tend to lose ground during their summer vacations unless their minds are stimulated in some way.

How do you do that? Get them to read.

How can you get them excited about reading? Come out to the festivities surrounding Washington County Reading Day at Hagerstown Community College on Saturday, May 1.

The event, which will be held at HCC Alumni Amphitheater from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will include music, dramatic readings and chance to meet with local authors such as The Herald-Mail's own Tim Rowland.

In addition, those who attend will receive a free book from Scholastic Books and hot dogs and sodas (while they last) from Partners in Literacy.

If you need transportation to the event, you can get a free County Commuter bus voucher by calling 301-733-6914.

Attending this event will show them that you value reading. It just may save your last nerve from being frazzled, since a child who's reading won't be whining about how there's "nothing to do."

Recently we've made some changes to this page, including eliminating columnist Donald Kaul and adding new features such as "Come Again," a collection of oddball stories and some irreverent observations about them.

Like these changes? If so - or if not - let us know by writing Editorial Page, The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, MD 21741, or by sending an e-mail to:

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