Letters to the Editor - Feb. 27

February 27, 2011

Feb. 19 marked a significant date in world history

To the editor:

A pivotal moment in the war in the Pacific and the world, as we know it today, was Feb. 19, 1945, when the United States invaded the tiny island of Iwo Jima. It was after this battle the question arose that sealed the fate of the Japanese Empire and the world: If a small island like Iwo Jima could hold out with such fanaticism for so long, what would it take to capture Tokyo?

At 9:02 a.m., on the 19th of February 1945, U.S. Marines launched an attack on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima. This pork chop-shaped island, some 16 miles in length was nicknamed the “Sulfur Island,” due to the volcanic soil that encompassed the entire island and made it almost impregnable. It was also the first time any enemy had ever invaded a Japanese island.

The American task force numbered some 100,000 troops. The Japanese defended the island with around 25,000. However, all seemed in favor of the well-entrenched defenders. The Marines soon found out the Japanese were willing to die for their emperor and country. It took the Marines 36 days of constant and often hand-to-hand fighting to secure the island for an air-base for B29s. In all, the United States suffered 5,931 killed and 17,372 injured; only a few hundred Japanese were taken alive. Admiral Nimitz said, of the battle, “On Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue,” as despite the furious fighting, the Marines pushed forward; with no let-up, until victory was theirs.

Due to this battle, the above question was ever on the minds of the planners of the invasion of Japan. President Truman made the final decision.

On the 6th of August 1945, the world changed suddenly and irrevocably, as the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The rest is history. The Japanese Empire surrendered eight days later, Aug. 14, ending the war in the Pacific and the atomic age of warfare had begun.

Paul H. Inskeep
Inmate No. 211-806
Maryland Correctional Training Center

Support appreciated for successful Sunday Brunch gatherings

To the editor:

My first wife, Ruth, died of breast cancer in 1974. Thirteen years later, after working as an insurance agent for almost three decades, I retired. So in 1987 when I was asked to join the board of our local chapter of the American Cancer Society, I found a place where I could use the extra time and energy afforded me by my retirement and also contribute to a cause which had deeply affected my life.

During my second year on the board we also started our annual Sunday Brunch, for which everyone paid $15. Without sponsors, raffles or silent auctions we raised more than $5,000. This past November, 21 years later, despite a gloomy economy, we cleared more than $34,000. How is this possible?

The success of these brunches was achieved by the continuing dedication of many people. This past year, June Datum, with the help of 11 other ladies, laid the groundwork so that the brunch would run like clockwork. For a number of years, Lou Scally was our master of ceremonies and “Dean Burkett and Friends” produced balloon sculptures and did magic tricks, while Mary Jane Koontz provided face painting.

In addition to the generous contributions of these individuals, the brunches could not have succeeded without the sponsorship of more than 100 merchants. Our organization also has been blessed to have places like Hager Hall Center, which provided wonderful meals and service. Then there are the people who attend this event year after year, often socializing with friends they have not seen since the previous year’s brunch. But, of course, none of this would have been possible without the help of those who sold so many tickets.

One of these is Grace Snively, age 97, with whom I have worked on fundraising for Daffodil Days and the Sunday Brunch for many years. When I phoned her last August, I asked how she was doing and she said, “Not so well.” I said, “Then, Grace, you probably don’t want to help me this year.” Imagine my surprise when she said, “Jim, I will help you until the day I die. Send me 10 brunch tickets and 25 raffle tickets.” Would you believe she sold 12 tickets? People sometimes ask when I will stop participating in the brunches and I tell them I think about giving it up each year. But when everyone is so kind and supportive, it is not easy. God willing I will see many of you again in 2011.

Thanks to all the hundreds of people who have supported the American Cancer Society for the past 23 years that I have been a volunteer.

Jim Shifler

Let’s start working together to give children the best education

To the editor:

Educators were working to improve our public schools before it became trendy, and we are eager to collaborate with parents, community leaders and anyone else who shares our vision. We offer no “manifesto” and no easy answers, only the promise of hard work and a chance to make a difference.

We must move away from the current systems for evaluating students and teachers. Standardized tests are clearly not the solution, either for measuring student achievement or judging their teachers. We need to focus on measuring the skills our children will need for the 21st century — critical thinking, reading comprehension and writing, and the ability to ask pertinent questions. And, we need to allow teachers and management to collaborate on new methods of evaluation that will give a better picture of what students are learning, and help teachers improve their practice.

As an educator, I truly hope that this national debate will allow for real dialogue about the challenges facing our education system and the hard work and collaboration necessary to address them. Let’s put aside the rhetoric and stop the blame and start working together to give all of our students the world-class education they deserve.

Sandra Beard
Greencastle, Pa.

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