Letters to the Editor

May 13, 2010

Atlee Kepler was a merry warrior

To the editor:

Several years ago, I joined a few hundred merry mortals for an evening with Ken Kesey. The brilliant prankster and satirist shambled to the edge of the stage in a tie-dyed T-shirt with a psychedelic fish dangling from his neck and tossed an "Ask-It-Ball" into the audience. The fluffy ball had a wireless microphone tucked in it. While Kesey sat at a small table and signed books, he took questions and dispensed wisdom. He talked about warriors. "Real warriors," he said, and quickly added, "You know a warrior when you see one: Jerry Garcia. All English teachers. Eleanor Roosevelt."

On April 28, we lost a merry warrior of our own: Atlee Kepler. Warriors, of course, never die. Atlee laughed heartily when I told him about that memorable hoot and quipped, "Fine hippie company you keep." And he'd be amused that I've now included him with this crowd.


When Atlee graduated as class valedictorian from Washington College in 1942, he shared the dais with the commencement speaker, Eleanor Roosevelt, and seated directly next to him was author Sophie Kerr. During the commencement exercises, Kerr leaned over and asked him softly what he'd really like to do with his life if he could afford it, Atlee whispered, "Write."

When Kerr's will was made public in the 1960s, she had bequeathed an endowment to the English Department of Washington College for the richest undergraduate writing award in the nation. The current value of the coveted prize, awarded annually to the most promising writer of fiction in the senior class, is about $70,000.

Atlee never enjoyed the luxury of writing full time, but he regaled many friends with wit and stories they hoped he'd ultimately publish. Following his World War II stint, including an Egyptian tour of duty in the Office of Strategic Services, he took on the warrior's mantel as a high school English teacher.

I borrow from Garrison Keillor for an apropos tribute to Atlee and to all of those guardians of the English language. In a wry and mock evacuation of a sinking cruise ship, Keillor declaims over the ship's megaphone: "All English majors and teachers calmly evacuate first ... followed by women and children."

I can hear Atlee savoring it. He remained a fierce and lifelong guardian of language and irony and affordable education for all. From the outset, against long odds, he fought on and built from scratch a solid and sprawling community college, the first in Maryland, and one of the first in the nation.

Lawrence Angle

Citizenship law must be changed

To the editor:

I propose making a change in the citizenship law.

Our country has progressed in many ways over the decades on the technology front, but we are decades behind on many other fronts, one of those being the citizenship law.

With this law, we attract many undesirables to our great country who use such laws to bypass citizenship. It must be changed. We, the American citizens, must wake up and change this law that allows illegal immigrants - in this our beloved country - to have their children born in America and automatically become citizens of America. We are then responsible for their health care and education, not to mention the legal problems caused.

We, the American citizens, must wake up and bring about the change needed to correct this insane law. We must change the law to relate to modern times and technology.

Another change that I personally have been advocating is term limits for our federally elected officials.

Many laws we have today do not relate to modern times and technology. We must be resolute in this endeavor to make a change in term limits.

Tom Wilhelm

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