Letters to the editor

October 04, 2004

Benefits may be available

To the editor:

April 9, 1942, marked one of the most tragic events in U.S. military history. On that day, 62 years ago, a starving and exhausted U.S. force at Bataan in the Philippines surrendered to the invading Japanese. The next day, more than 10,000 American soldiers, along with thousands of Filipinos, began the infamous Bataan "Death March."

One thousand American soldiers died during the 63-mile ordeal of deprivation, brutality and torture. Those who survived faced years of brutal and deadly captivity; a third of them died before the war's end.

April 9 is National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day, a time for America to honor and remember those veterans who gave up their freedom to protect ours. Thousands of veterans who survived enemy incarceration during World War II and the Korean War are living today, as are those who served in Vietnam and more recent military operations. Because they have survived the trauma and deprivations of wartime captivity, the Martinsburg VA Medical Center and staff held its annual POW/MIA Recognition Program on Sept. 14 at 1:30 p.m. in the Post Theater, Building 317.


For many of these aging former POWs - most are in their 80s - time is running out. These former POWs may be eligible for special benefits and services from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

As we remember their service and their sacrifice next April 9, also remember to let them know that they can contact the VA to determine if they and their spouses are eligible for the benefits they deserve and have earned.

They can contact a VA benefits counselor by calling toll-free 1-800-827-1000 or contact Sheri West or Elisabeth Grove, POW/MIA administrative co-coordinators, at the Martinsburg VA Medical Center, 1-304-263-0811, ext. 3838 or 4303. Veterans service organizations and service officers can also help.

We can all help our former POWs get the benefits they deserve. Contact West or Grove at the above numbers if there are questions.

Guy B. Richardson
Acting Medical Center Director
Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Slavery played no part in war

To the editor:

If I may, I would like to amend a recent letter-writer's statement that slavery was legal before the war; it was legal the entire war.

Four years before the Civil War began, slavery was confirmed to be protected by the U.S. Constitution by the Nation's highest court (March 6, 1857).

On the eve of the war, (March 2, 1861) the U.S. Congress passed a Constitutional Amendment that would guarantee that the Constitution's protection of slavery would continue. This was immediately followed by two U.S. presidents lobbing for the ratification of this amendment. The federal government, all three branches, were pro-slavery!

The South would have been out of its mind to secede from the Union if its motive were to preserve slavery. It is just as insane to suggest that the North invaded the South to free the slaves. Slavery was protected by the U.S. Constitution until December 6, 1865, with the ratifying of the 13th Amendment, slavery was abolished. If you check your dates you will find that Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865, a month earlier.

To teach that the Civil War was a war to free the slaves or that it evolved into one is incorrect. Would a civilized nation such as the U.S. engage in a war to accomplish an objective that was unlawful by its own Constitution?

Even after the war, the North lacked the will to ratify the 13th Amendment. It took the positive votes of eight Confederate states to obtain the required three-quarters majority. Actually Virginia, Louisiana and Tennessee ratified the amendment before Lee surrendered. A mighty strange action for a state that is supposed to be fighting for slavery.

I will leave it to your imagination as to how eight Confederate states were able to play a part in the ratification of the U. S. Constitution.

I remind you that four years earlier these same southern states had rejected the chance to ratify an amendment that would have made slavery practically impossible to abolish.

Jim Shillinglaw
Norfolk County Grays
Norfolk Va.

Watch out for draft bill being introduced

To the editor:

All Americans should be alerted to the possibility of Congress passing HR 163, which apparently would institute a mandatory draft in spring of 2005 for all males and females age 18-26.

It is very concerning that this possibility has not been noticeably discussed in this election and that the media has not made the public fully aware of such an agenda.

After hearing about this legislation, I have written my representatives in Congress and will plan to find out exactly what this legislation says and would mean to me and my family.

It is important that The Herald-Mail find out more about this legislation. Please provide the citizens of Washington County with information on what this bill is all about and what it would mean to each and every one of us and our families.

Mindy Morgan
Clear Spring

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