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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, October 05, 2017 1:00 am


Las Vegas tragedy takes professional, personal toll

The unspeakable tragedy that occurred on the late evening of Oct. 1 in Las Vegas is almost beyond comprehension. The lives of 59 innocent people were snuffed out by a murderer who committed a terrorist attack. Another 527 lives were shattered by gunfire, and thousands of families will be affected by this act for the rest of their lives.

Words cannot properly express my personal heartbreak. As executive director of Headwaters Park, we work constantly to provide a safe venue for families who visit concerts, festivals, not-for-profit events, weddings and outdoor ice skating. As a city councilman, I work with other city leaders to provide a well-trained police force that enhances security to many of these events at Headwaters Park and in other venues. We will continue to work together to ensure the safety of patrons.

This tragic event has had a personal effect on my family and on me. I received a telephone call from a reporter at USA Today inquiring whether I was a relative of or knew of the deranged gunman. I assured the reporter that this particular Stephen Paddock was of no relation to my family, and we had never heard of him before Monday morning. My brother's name is Stephen Gray Paddock, and his son is Stephen Gray Paddock II. They live in Boca Raton, Florida, with my sister-in-law, Barbara, and their daughter, Bridget. They are shocked and devastated by this heinous act of bloodshed.

As we go forward in our lives to grieve and then to work on preventing future tragedies, I ask that we say a prayer for all the victims of this senseless act.

Geoff Paddock

Fort Wayne

Protest keeps US vital

I was an American fighting man. I was prepared to give my life. I served in the Air Force for almost eight years. I am a decorated Vietnam-era veteran.

Stand, sit, lie down, kneel, whatever. Americans can do whatever they want during our national anthem. For hundreds of years, Americans have fought and died defending the right to protest and not face a firing squad because they did so. Demanding someone take away their livelihood, their means of providing for their families, and condemning them for protesting is wrong. We are Americans. We are free.

Shout, protest, keep our government from taking away our basic freedoms.

James S. Hendon

Fort Wayne

Flag, anthem dishonored worse than by kneelers

Why even perform “The Star Spangled Banner” before a sporting event? They're only singing one stanza. Why not sing the entire song? Admit it, you don't know the words.

Federal law requires men – not women – to remove headdress with the right hand and requires all to stand during the national anthem and face the music or  the flag. There are no exceptions and  no penalties for violations. Remember when TV stations would sign off nightly with the national anthem and the image of the flag? Did you stand in your living room with hand over heart, or did you change the channel?

And if the national anthem is so precious to everyone, why isn't everyone starting their day at home, in private, using family time, singing the anthem? Why wait until a sporting event?

The national anthem could be reserved for state events and purely political functions, then its significance would be preserved. Not preserved from kneelers –which is not what it needs – but preserved from the mundane thoughtlessness that accompanies its performance at a sporting event.

The national anthem at a sporting event has been relegated to entertainment like everything else, just as the flag flying at every commercial establishment that can afford a flagpole relegates the Stars and Stripes to nothing more than bunting and decoration for mercantile purposes. Everyone knows a car dealer in this city flies the largest American flag in the region if not the state. It is simply a landmark, a unique marketing strategy, a fluttering, moving, catch-your-eye attention-getter, and an advertising slogan: “Find us under the big American flag.”

Make no mistake, the national anthem and the American flag were “dishonored,” and in worse ways, long before athletes started taking the knee.

Kenneth Athon

Fort Wayne