Facing the facts
I am grateful to all those who helped bring the traveling Vietnam War Memorial to Saugerties. I hope veterans and their families felt the ceremony on opening day showed the community’s respect for those who served. May it also be part of a healing process for the emotional wounds endured in the conflict — both in Vietnam and America.
The memorial event follows the recent ceremony in Woodstock honoring Sgt Richard Quinn, a former classmate of mine. Richard was a medic who bravely sacrificed his life attempting to save his fellow medic during a ferocious firefight.
These ceremonies are amends to those who served in that war, are long overdue — and should continue. It is understandable that there are veterans who still feel the pain, anger, and bitterness about their experience during and after the war.
However, with respect, I take some exception to some of what was said by the master of ceremony. He blamed the press for calling soldiers “baby killers.” The press only reported the varied and strong feelings that citizens felt on different sides of issues related to the war. Instead, it was the press that published the Pentagon Papers that exposed how the administration knew clearly, since the early 1960s, the war could not possibly be won — yet continued to escalate and send more American youth to kill and be killed or wounded.
I disagree that it was a “lack of resolve” on the part of the government that caused the outcome- — it was the lack of courage to face the facts. The government of South Vietnam was not a good democracy — it was a corrupt and cruel regime. The U.S. entered into this quagmire to support the French and their horrid colonialism. The Vietnamese of the north were fighting for their independence and were actually inspired by America’s founding documents. But once U.S. forces supported the corrupt South, the North had only the Chinese and Russian communists to look to for support.
Also, many youth were drafted against their will and beliefs — and suffered from that in addition to all the other issues.
That said, I intend no disrespect toward those who enlisted, believed in the mission as they were told, and served honorably. However, if we do not face well-documented facts about that war and learn from it, we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes and lies — evidenced by the war in Iraq. To perpetuate false and misleading statements about these wars would be, for me, the ultimate disrespect to all the remarkable brave men and women who serve in our military.
Concentrate power locally
I am an active member of the Democratic Party, to the extent even of being a delegate to the NY State Democratic Convention. Recently, however, I have begun to think of myself as a socialist because I want a radical transformation of our capitalist economy, which is on the road to planetary suicide. A socialist platform maintains that the economy should be democratically owned and controlled in order to serve the needs of the many, not to make profits for the few.
However again, I have long nurtured a proclivity for anarchism, which makes me skeptical of empowering a central government or state. If socialism means a strong central government (à la the USSR in 1917), then I’m not a socialist after all. Power should be concentrated in local institutions which are smaller than our present states — like county legislatures and social service departments. And the states themselves should be replaced by bioregions. Now our task — or one of our tasks at least — is to create projects that will attract members of all of today’s political parties, so that they will work together. One such project will be the ownership of businesses and factories by the workers. More ideas will emerge.
The Rev. Finley Schaef
Tim Scott, Jr. for Saugerties Public Library Board
On September 6, we will have the opportunity to cast our vote to keep our community vibrant by electing two 5-year and one 3-year term nominees to the Saugerties Library Board of Trustees. I hope that Timothy Scott, Jr. will have the opportunity to play a role in the future of the public library, which is a cornerstone of our town’s community. I know that he will continue to support the excellent programming for residents of all ages. He has a genuine concern for the needs of the community, while keeping in mind the budgetary concerns of its residents.
Tim has proven himself to be a strong advocate for our community, serving on the Saugerties Zoning Board of Appeals and as Campaign Treasurer for John Schoonmaker in his bid for the Saugerties Town Board. He has worked tirelessly for the Saugerties Democratic Committee for the past two years, and has become a recognizable face at town meetings. I appreciate the fresh and balanced perspective that Timothy Scott, Jr., brings to the table. I hope to see him elected to the Saugerties Library Board in September!
Worrying about children
None of us exit childhood without scars, but with work, love, and luck many of us someday enter into healing processes that allow us to lead relatively healthy, helpful, and happy lives and to do no harm, or as little as possible, to our equally scarred companions on Earth.
The separation of a child from her parent, however, leaves scars that may never heal, and so we worry about immigrant children, and about how their forcible, sudden, and prolonged isolation from their parents will mold them into the adults they become, and how these traumatized adults will in turn treat the partners, offspring, friends, acquaintances, and societies with whom they engage.
A second group of children deserve our worry as well: the children of Trump believers, and in particular those devout enough to drag their kids to his revivals.
YouTube offers a far less vulnerable viewing spot than these parents afford their children, yet even at my safe distance the images shake me; and I shudder at the denunciations and threats fired off by the Divider and echoed by his devotees — if not nearly as deafeningly, or persuasively, in my ears as in the ears of the children, who, just like their immigrant counterparts, cling to and rely on, listen to and learn from their parents.
The child at the rally is luckier than the child at the border: He has a parent’s hand to cling to. But he feels that hand gnarling into a fist, and imprints the itch to swing that fist and his dad’s expectation that when the time comes he, the dutiful son, will swing a fist, too, against the same enemies, and probably against a few other enemies of the day as well.
Then, of course, there’s a third group of children to worry about — our own.
Those who put the world and its children in harm’s way for this president are guilty of sins of commission. Maybe these people had it harder than most, and their scars never healed, or haven’t yet, and we should forgive them. And maybe not.
But one thing seems clear: If any of the rest of us fail to vote this year — with the House within reach and hope hurtling beyond reach; with every child facing a dire future rapidly spinning into a dystopian present — it will be hard not to see that failure as an unforgivable act of omission
Questions for Geronimo
The following questions and comments were prepared for Geronimo, the solar company that is proposing 100 acres of solar panels in a field at Churchland Lane and Churchland Road in Saugerties. We hope that these questions will be addressed at the next Planning Board meeting on August 21 at the Saugerties Senior Citizen Center at 7:30 p.m.
Has Geronimo inquired into the existing properties available in the industrial zone and the two properties behind CVS? Why not select a property in an industrial zone instead of a residential area? (This information was requested by us from the building inspector.)
What are the ingredients in the herbicides that will be used to keep down the weeds?
Local zoning law amending existing local zoning law states that the site for such a facility “shall not exceed 70 percent of the gross area of the site.” Is your proposed project in violation of this law?
Has the company had lawsuits against them by municipalities or land owners in other places/states in the past?
Why do representatives from your company tell residents near the proposed site that their real estate value will go up? Our son, who has a NYS real estate license, claims otherwise. Really now, who would choose to live next to such an eyesore?
Alan Spivack, Joan Monastero