We are becoming a fragmented and unpatriotic society. As past commander of the American Legion Medford Post 11, my patriotism runs deep. A naval radioman in naval intelligence, I intercepted Japanese coded messages during World War II. Our efforts resulted in the winning of the Midway battle and I also served on Guadalcanal doing the same effort.

I feel we are currently becoming a second-rate nation with our conservative thinking going down the drain. This reminds me of the British Empire during WWII, with their Chamberlain — which we have many of.

I know what the Depression was. I joined the Civilian Conservation Corps to put food in my stomach and similarly the U.S. Navy prior to WWII.

This all looks familiar to me.

Please do not call me Hispanic. Just plain American will do. We have to unite under one banner, American. If you think the Russians are playing patty cake you better start digging yourself a big, big hole.

If you liberals out there think the big bear will give you a nice hug, you are more naive than I thought. In the meantime keep supporting Red China and plan on eating a lot of rice in the future. — Caesar Valdes, Ashland

I belong to the generation that went through the Great Depression and fought for our country in World War II. I love my country, but I don't recognize America anymore. We've lost our identity.

There is something fascinating about going back to the place where we were born, to recall the scenes of those early days. I remember the old one-room schoolhouse, the shops on Main Street where country folk gathered on Saturday to buy supplies. Parked on the street were Model A's, Chevys, a Dodge, sometimes a Model T or a Durant. Memories only now, for such scenes are no more.

Many old-fashioned Americans would wish to return to those early days of contentment and the spirit of independent self-reliance. This country was created by those who relied on themselves, not by citizens relying on the government to do everything for them and bear their burdens.

America has some serious problems. The misfits in Washington have done so much in the last several years to wreck this country through war and selfish ambition. Who will rise to lead us out of this mess, unite the country and above all, restore the American spirit? — Red Smith, Medford

Afghanistan has been called the graveyard of empires. The British and Soviets should know.

Afghanistan produces 93 percent of the world opium crop. Suicide bombers are killing more people than ever. Afghanistan's government controls only about 30 percent of the country and it would not last long without U.S. troops and money. Taliban are attacking Pakistan trying to cut our supply lines running through Pakistan to Afghanistan.

The U.S. is trying to win in this country with too few troops (about 60,000). Hard to believe that we can control Afghanistan which is 49 percent bigger in area than Iraq with 19 percent more people than Iraq. Remember we have 100,000 to 130,000 troops in Iraq. Hamid Karzai's government is a very corrupt one and he has been reduced to a figurehead decorating the presidential palace in Kabul.

The only hope of a success is to isolate the most radical members of al Qaida and Taliban, replace them with other non-radical Taliban, get them to lay down their weapons and negotiate a new political role in Afghanistan for themselves. Some believe Afghanistan is the "good war," but it seems that this may not be the one with the best opportunity to win. — Art Gerds Jr., Yreka, Calif.

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