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Letters to the editor

May 02, 2004

'I just want my brother back'

To the editor:

On the afternoon of April 7, my brother was shot at close range by a young black male in baggy clothes. This person followed him along a jogging trail in a park in Severn, Md., then drew his gun and fired for no apparent reason. My brother was struck in the right cheek and the abdomen.

David W. Brown, formerly of Hagerstown and still a part-time employee of the Washington County Hospital, is in critical condition in a Baltimore hospital.

If he survives, he will probably spend two months, perhaps three, in intensive care.

There are more guns per capita in this country than perhaps anywhere else in the world. Our rates of injury and death by gun violence are extraordinarily high and astounding to citizens of other countries. Why is this and what can be done about it?


Must we all resort to carrying guns to protect ourselves? No one in my family has ever owned a gun or used one except my father as a soldier in World War II.

David is not the kind of person to carry a weapon, and certainly not the kind to draw a gun at the first sight of a black male in baggy clothes. If my brother had been carrying his own gun, isn't it possible that he and the other guy would have killed each other where they stood?

Another argument we hear is that prosecution and tough prison sentences are the answer. Lock him up and throw away the key. Make an example of him to others.

But according to the Anne Arundel County Police, there are no witnesses and no leads in this case. The person who did this may never be caught. There are countless young men serving time in American prisons, and yet no shortage of others on the streets committing the same crimes with no regard for human life.

We should seek justice whenever possible, but no punishment could ever undo the damage and the pain done to my brother and to those who love him.

Where did the shooter get his weapon? Was it stolen from someone who failed to lock up his guns properly? Was my brother shot as part of a gang initiation?

A gun in the hands of a criminal is a source of intoxicating power. In the hands of a law abiding citizen, it's a source of false security. If you are determined to own firearms and would never use one illegally, I have no desire to deprive you of your rights. I just want my brother back.

Ruth Brown
Washington, D.C.

(Editor's note: Ruth Brown is a former Herald-Mail columnist.)

Take some time to thank teachers for all that they do

To the editor:

A teacher is defined as someone who helps others learn something, someone who provides insight or knowledge or causes one to understand.

While this is a perfectly fine dictionary definition of a teacher, it lacks the depth, passion and inspiration I witness firsthand during visits to more than 100 Maryland public schools each year.

Some would say, "Why do we need Teacher Appreciation Week?" or "Why bother paying tribute to teachers? They are just doing their jobs like anyone else."

I choose to acknowledge Teacher Appreciation Week, and teachers in general, because I know that teachers are not "just doing their jobs like anyone else."

To truly teach means to excite, inspire, coax, motivate, mentor, counsel and reprimand - surpassing the dictionary definition of a teacher.

I was first inspired to become a teacher when I learned about the amazing relationship between Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan. Annie Sullivan embodies the depth, passion and inspiration teachers must possess.

In Maryland, teachers share that same drive and determination. Every day, in every classroom, a child's or teenager's world expands because of a teacher; a future is made clearer and brighter.

Everyone wants to be appreciated for his or her unique gifts. Teachers' gifts help shape lives, and for that we all should be extremely thankful.

So, during this week, and every week, I hope that Marylanders will join me in simply saying, "Thank you for being a teacher."

Nancy S. Grasmick
Maryland School Superintendent
Baltimore, Md.

Eagle's family says 'thanks'

To the editor:

Thanks to Mayor Breichner, Sen. Don Munson, Del. Robert McKee and Don Donat, Elks Lodge 378, for taking the time to attend the ceremony taking my grandson, Chris Kelly, into Eagle Scouts.

Also, thanks to Pastor Valentine and all the scout officials who participated April 17.

It was a beautiful ceremony and attended by many friends and family of Chris Kelly.

Charlotte L. Shirley

Who really owns this house of mine?

To the editor:

What is up with the City of Hagerstown? You have a business in the same location for 16 years and they push you out. You pack everything up and take some of it to your house to sell it or store it. The house in which you own. They come along and tell you that you have to get it off your property.

First, they push you out of business. What's next, are they going to try to push you out of your house? I didn't see where they had a problem holding out their hands when we paid property tax on the business.

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