October Letters

Readers respond to the August issue

Homecoming Wish

As a relative of an airman missing in action in North Korea since the Korean War, I read "Lost Over Laos" with great emotion. It details the scenario thousands of families of missing soldiers hope to experience. To have the fate of loved ones known with certainty, to bring them home at last to the country they served, is our ultimate wish.

Myra K. Hillburg
Fairfax, Virginia

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command has a budget of $50 million to recover remains from all over the world. Meanwhile, those wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan are facing Veterans Affairs budget cuts that might affect their treatment and rehabilitation. Is it fair or reasonable to spend millions on dead people while wounded people are being ill cared for?

David Steiner, Lt. col. USAF (ret)
Allenspark, Colorado

Your article about searching for the remains of pilot "Bat" Masterson was especially poignant for me, a USAF Vietnam-era vet (1973-75). When I purchased a POW/MIA bracelet, I asked for one that represented a member of the USAF. The stainless-steel bracelet I received and still wear with pride reads: "Lt. Col. Michael “Bat” Masterson, USAF, 10.13.68 Laos."

R. Allen Pickett
Phoenix, Arizona

Skeptical In Montana

Montanans ("Cowboys and Realtors") get a big chuckle out of guys who live in places like Seattle thinking they have us all figured out, and who write about how we're so gullible and ignorant that we're hoodwinked into electing anyone for public office who totes a gun and sits on a horse long enough to have his picture taken. We have few illusions about our state. We see the beauty of this open, wild country every time we look around, and we see the glut of new and expensive housing developments. We see the housing market being driven beyond our reach by "newcomers," as the author of the article, Blaine Harden, calls them, with their "trophy ranches" and 5,000- square-foot homes. But for Harden to leap to the suggestion that disgruntled, resentful Montanans are venting their frustrations by killing 11 grizzlies a year is foolish, especially as Harden himself says there is no evidence as to who is doing the killing.

K. Merrick
Helena, Montana

"Cowboys and Realtors" states that Cole Porter wrote the hit song "Don't Fence Me In." But it was Bob Fletcher of Butte, Montana, who wrote the lyrics. He sold his poem to Porter in 1934, and Porter composed the music for it (and he owns the copyright). Fletcher, who died in 1972, was also the father of the historical marker signs adorning highways in Montana.

Jack Darlow
Stevensville, Montana

Package Deal

Corn plastic—the future of plastic in a post-petroleum world? ("Corn Plastic to the Rescue?") Whoa! As an article in the July issue ("What's Eating America") points out, growing corn requires prodigious amounts of nitrogen fertilizer, which requires prodigious amounts of fossil fuel. The production of corn plastic may not consume as much petroleum as conventional plastic packaging, but let's not delude ourselves. If you want to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and the size of our landfills, buy food with minimal or no packaging, like an ear of corn—and leave the produce department's little plastic bags on the roll.

Terrie Blevins
Thomasville, North Carolina

A Superfluous Battle?

One might wonder how history ("Saving New Orleans") would have played out if communications in the War of 1812 had been as instant as they are today. To wit, the "supposed" decisive Battle of New Orleans was fought two weeks after the Treaty of Ghent, which officially ended the war, was signed (though not ratified). Slow news for those that were to die in battle, but good timing for the historic reputations of Andrew Jackson and Jean Laffite.

Sam Osborne
West Branch, Iowa


The first athlete to win four gold medals at a single Olympics was not Jesse Owens ("This Month in History") but Alvin Kraenzlein, an American track-and-field star at the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris.

In "Wild Things," a caption for an artist's rendering of an extinct ancestor of whales and dolphins misstated the species. It is a Rodhocetus.

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