Letters to the Editor

04/13 What You’re Saying: J.R. Hardy, Wayne Herndon, Joe Moran, Kristin Henry, Alan Culton, and Adelaide Zahren

False belief

The Civil War was not fought because of slavery, but because the South exercised their right to secede from the Union. People who are removing Confederate statues are doing it under a false belief. They should be required to replace the statues.

Members of the American Communist Party organized a mob that tore down a statue of a Confederate soldier in front of the old Durham County Courthouse. If the sheriff had not been a coward the statue would be standing today.

Officials at Duke University who removed the statue of Robert E Lee are hypocrites. Much of the land that Duke University is on was donated to Washington Duke by a slave owner. Washington Duke’s fortune built Duke University. Washington Duke served in the Confederate Navy during the Civil War. Should Duke University be closed? Thousands of Southern black men fought for the Confederacy under the Confederate battle flag. The state of North Carolina paid compensation to widows whose husband was killed by Union Forces.

I have contempt for the socialist governor of North Carolina because he expressed hatred for my ancestors and lied about the Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln had a career of failures. His greatest failure was declaring war against the South. The war caused great suffering; thousands of soldiers were maimed and killed. Death and destruction were Lincoln’s legacy. The war cost Lincoln death by assassination.

J.R. Hardy


“It’s a beautiful thing, but it really has no place," says Bobby Gersten, 97, of Silent Sam behind him on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Mark Schultz mschultz@heraldsun.com

Go home, Bobby

In my opinion, Bobby Gersten (UNC ’42) has proven Richard Pryor wrong. Sometimes a fool can become old.

Bobby, I’m an alumnus who is actually a North Carolinian. Your views about Silent Sam are irrelevant. Sam is not a monument to the invaders from your home, New York. Sam is a monument to the students who left school to defend their homes from invasion. Your ancestors were probably not even on this continent when the South was invaded by Lincoln. Go back to New York and worry about the monuments there.

Wayne Herndon (UNC ’71)


Remove statues without guilt

With all the discussion of the “Silent Sam” statue and other statuary, it is somewhat amazing that there is little conversation about why we feel a need to venerate those who have ventured forth to kill.

Apologists will argue that the statues are about memorializing bravery, heritage and patrimony. While there is some truth to this, the fact remains, unfortunately so, that their proliferation lends a certain nobility and merit to the notion of war itself.

In contrast, most modern-day veterans I know who have personally experienced this deadly and sordid human enterprise are reticent to speak about the horror of it, or else they repress it completely. Too many of them spend the remainder of their lives psychologically haunted by the gruesome memories of the carnage.

This is not a matter of assessing guilt. God is the judge of what lies in men’s hearts. Most Union and Confederate combatants were assuredly good people. The young faces in those early 1860s photographs of men marching off to fight seem innocent, almost angelic. Yet author Michael Shaara, writing about those soldiers, calls them “killer angels.” For that reason alone one could make a legitimate case for removing any statue that – even if unwittingly – honors the senseless killing that is war.

For the fallen, we’ll weep for them in our churches and beside their graves.

Joe Moran


Tire mulch concerns

Thanks for your article on the recent decision to remove the shredded tire mulch at East Durham Park due to neighbors concerns over health risks. My older child’s preschool went there daily. We oftentimes would go as a family and stopped going once we found out that there are a dozen cancer-causing chemicals used in the making of tires. Kids play with the tire mulch, sometimes chewing it, including my own toddler.

The question around the science needs to be reframed to ask: why would rubber from used tires be allowed to remain as playground surfacing when there's not enough science to prove that it's safe? Both the EPA and the CPSC no longer claim that the material is safe.

The national EPA/CDC/CPSC study’s timeline that is noted in the article, slated for release mid-year, is only for the EPA’s piece of the study, not the whole FRAP. The EPA’s timeline continues to experience delays. There are no immediate changes in official guidelines for playgrounds expected from the EPA’s finding alone. The council made a wise decision to move forward now.

Furthermore, there is research that shows real concern, including a recent peer reviewed study by Yale researchers. It concludes: “This study shows that a large number of compounds, many of them carcinogenic or irritants, are released from shredded recycled tires through several potential routes. Caution would argue against use of these materials where human exposure is likely, and this is especially true for playgrounds and athletic playing fields where young people may be affected.”

I’m encouraged by Council Member Freeman’s leadership on this issue and the city council’s responsiveness to community concerns. I urge them to make a city-wide plan to phase out rubber surfacing where kids play, and to continue to prioritize equity.

Kristin Henry


A teacher’s reality

I am not enlisted in the military. I am not a member of a SWAT team. I am a kindergarten teacher in an ordinary suburban school.

A threat has been issued against the high school down the street. We have an emergency staff meeting before students arrive tomorrow. We will have a police presence all week. My lesson planning today included collaborating with a fellow kKindergarten teacher. She is bringing a baseball bat. I am bringing a crowbar.

Tomorrow I could have to make a choice. I give so much to your children, every day, because they are worth it. They are beautiful and smart, courageous and strong. They are our future. Tomorrow, will I have to choose to give everything to keep these children alive? I believe I would do it. I hope I would do it. But the fact that I even have to consider this situation is incomprehensible to me.

Have you ever had a lockdown drill at your workplace? Have you ever planned what you would do in an active shooter situation? Would you run? Would you shield your co-workers? Would you go home to your family that day? These are the thoughts teachers have had to confront for years.

I want to go to my own daughter’s second birthday in May. I want to see your children grow even stronger, even more courageous. I want them alive, and unafraid. I do not believe this is too much to ask. Do you?

Adelaide Zahren


A nod and a wink

There is a broken filing cabinet in the Smithsonian National Museum of American history. The cabinet belonged to Daniel Ellsberg’'s psyciatrist and was broken open by men working for President Nixon known as the “plumbers.” At that time the FBI was tapping Ellsburg's phone without a warrent. Today we learn that the FBI raided the office of President Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen. But this time you can rest assured that all proper warrents were obtained with a nod and a wink. I wonder if they used G Gordon Liddy’s crowbar.

Alan Culton

Chapel Hill

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