America must be land
of opportunity for all
Thank you for your June 2019 mention of the 75th anniversary of the GI Bill. It was an appropriate salute to an innovative policy that supported the educational, home ownership and general economic uplift of Americans who made the unselfish sacrifice to protect our democratic ideals.
Unfortunately, you failed to mention the inequities of this and far too many other former and current policies that have not treated all Americans the same. Black service members experienced difficulties in obtaining GI Bill benefits. This is but one factor that explains the continued and growing educational and wealth disparities between American whites and American people of color.
As we look forward to an America that continues its journey towards a more perfect union, our challenge is to believe that we are a country of abundance such that the upward mobility of some doesn’t mean the downward spiral of others.
Our humanity and civility must be at the forefront as we meet the changing demographic realities that will result in a future America that looks different than the past America. Our shared hopes, however, are identical between old and new ... a land of love, community and opportunity.
We have a rich and complex history in our beloved country. Despite the loud and dangerous rhetoric currently floating in the ether, I believe we have more in common than we have in differences and that we must all recommit ourselves to the ideals of opportunity access, liberty and justice for all.
Greta J. Harris.
Karen Owen’s July 10 op-ed column was excellent and I applaud her inclusion of so many of the civil rights heroes and monuments around the city. However, I cannot help but be saddened by the omission of the Richmond 34. The 34 Virginia Union University students arrested on Feb. 22, 1960, for sitting at the whites-only lunch counter in the Thalhimers Department Store have been much neglected over the years. Their mass arrest was the catalyst for ending racial segregation in Richmond, and there are three monuments around Richmond commemorating them, including a state historical marker on Broad Street between Sixth and Seventh streets, where Thalhimers stood for many years.
These courageous students need to be more consistently recognized and included, and as we approach the 60th anniversary of this pivotal event, I would urge more people to familiarize themselves with their story.
Raymond Pierre Hylton.
missing in today’s society
I recently attended the funeral of a family friend, who lived well into his 90s. His life was rich and full. He was a decorated WWII veteran, and upon returning to Richmond, he had a long and successful career. His family was large and loving, and he was deeply engaged and well-respected in the community. A leader and a bridge-builder, he was a man of intense honesty and loyalty. The service concluded with “America the Beautiful.” I couldn’t help but wonder if he — or my father, who also served in WWII — would recognize the America we live in now. They fought in Europe and in the Pacific to preserve this country and its democratic ideals. They lived lives of integrity, honor and dignity. Seventy-five years later, we live in a climate of divisiveness. We are polarized and angry. We point fingers and wring our hands. We have lost the art of compromise, compassion, dialogue and civility. My heart was heavy as we sang the recessional music:
God shed his grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.
What has happened? Where are the leaders? Where did compassion and compromise go? And where are we to go from here?
Workers need wage hike
as cost of living skyrockets
On C-SPAN, I watched as members of the House of Representatives debated passage of a gradual workers’ minimum wage pay raise to $15 per hour by 2025. Republican opposition inserted the words “socialist” and “way out liberal” consistently in their attempt to dissuade their members from voting in the affirmative. Although they had passed the tax cut that enabled the very rich to get even richer, they were opposed to U.S. workers, whose take-home pay in the $7.25 per hour range has failed to keep up as expenses have risen astronomically. The same old fear that increasing the minimum wage will cost jobs was utilized. Leading the opposition was Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., who declared that Republicans care and love workers and who then voted against its passage in spite of the list of outstanding organizations that supported the bill. Watching our government at work was as eye-opener. President Trump’s campaign is underway. His congressional allies must label everything and everyone that tries to create a better opportunity for all as “socialist.” However, the female representative who spoke of her own family’s refugee experience fleeing from Vietnam because they had supported the United States and the minimum wage jobs they had to survive on was a true example why we should support this stimulus to the economy.
‘Atoning’ for past wrongs
unfair to Richmonders now
There have been several Letters to the Editor already about the absurdity of “reparations,” and I can’t improve on them. But the language seems to have escalated. An op-ed column on July 10 now speaks about “atonement.” Strictly speaking, this means “taking action to correct one’s previous wrongdoing.” It also has a clearly religious meaning, which means someone paying (in some way) for the misdeeds of someone else. My fellow citizens and I have done nothing wrong, yet we are told we must atone for the “sins” of previous generations. This is nonsense. Even if a direct ancestor of mine did something terribly wrong (by today’s standards), I still don’t owe anybody anything. Guilt for someone’s actions is not inherited by their descendants. I might feel bad about what has happened, but I am not responsible for it and I do not need to atone for it.
Kevin R. Dmytriw.