During the recent rush of big wildland fires, one local company in particular went out of its way to support the firefighters. In Cave Junction, where I was stationed as a public information officer on the Labrador fire, coffee and all other beverages at Dutch Bros. were priced at only $1 for anyone on that fire. The same was true at more than one other Dutch Bros. location.

They quietly kept this policy for weeks and weeks, without any fanfare. Thank you, Dutch Bros.! Now if I can just shake this hankering for a mocha every morning. — Tim Johnson, Jacksonville

"The Butler" brought up many memories of incidences we have witnessed in our travels and experiences.

My profession took our family into the South, and across the country, living in Las Vegas; Tucson; Amarillo, Texas; and Titusville, Fla., home of the Kennedy Space Center.

We were accepted, but anyone of color was often shunned and often ignored. Our children were threatened if they spoke to kids of color in Titusville. Even though black children went to the same school, they had separate classrooms!

In Las Vegas, famous black entertainers had to enter through back entrances where they were entertaining. Black people could sit only in the back rows of movie theaters.

We are acutely aware of the plight of our black citizens. It seems it is grounded in ignorance, fear and an endemic sense of negative self worth of the white establishment to accept black neighbors as true partners in our common humanity.

My position at Cape Kennedy was to get Armstrong to the place where he could take that "one small step for man." The "Giant Leap for Mankind" is still hanging in the balance until we can say with an open heart and a clear mind, "We are all worth brothers and sisters of this wonderful Planet Earth." — David Larson, Central Point

Those of us dedicated to peace and the nonviolent resolution of conflicts are indebted to Greg Walden, our U.S. representative, as well as Jeff Merkley, one of our U.S. senators, for opposing President Obama's plan to attack Syria. It was gratifying to see Congressional members from both sides of the aisle heed the enormous outpouring of public resistance to the president's ill-conceived, illegal and immoral desire to demonstrate that the U.S. has a right to kill whomever it wants whenever it wants.

President Putin's initiative to use diplomacy, not weapons, to stop the use of poison gas in Syria — which likely has been used by both Assad's government and its opponents — let Obama off the hook. But Putin also taught the man who won the Nobel Peace Prize how he should approach every international conflict.

Unfortunately, Obama has bought into the longstanding and ultimately disastrous idea that since U.S. military might is unrivaled, we can use it at will. Thus, U.S. service members continue to die for nothing in Afghanistan, and our drones continue to rain terror down on people in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Mali. — Herbert Rothschild, Phoenix

I follow the Legislature pretty closely, and although I may have missed something, I don't know of any case in which the Democrats reached out to the Republicans on budget matters as Sen. Alan Bates claims in his remarks on Dave Dotterrer announcing his opposition candidacy (MT Sept. 13).

Oregon small businesses are suffering due to a burdensome tax climate, which is exacerbated by future uncertainty. Republicans proposed a broad small-business tax cut for 210,000 business filers at the beginning of the session that was amended numerous times to address Democratic objections. The final Republican offer maintained most of the core principles of the initial plan despite being reduced to less than 78,000 filers by Democratic objections.

At no point did the Democrats do anything except object, object and object. This is not "working across the aisle" as Senator Bates claims. With Democratic control, the Senate is broken, as Dotterrer says. — Ken Fawcett, Ashland

Hopefully, the U.S. will reach an agreement to find and eventually destroy Syria's chemical weapons. While the Syrian conflict will remain unsettled, the removal of chemical weapons upholds international law and enforces morale values.

So why the trashing of Obama? Indeed, Obama's Syrian policy has changed, but so have the circumstances; the use of a WMD called for a strong U.S. response, which led to the Russian proposal to remove them. We should welcome an offer that accomplishes our goals.

Too often politicians prefer hubris and military intervention to the nuance and patience that negotiations require. Let's not forget the recent unjust and terribly costly (in lives, dollars and U.S. prestige) war in Iraq.

We should consider in an unbiased fashion the suggestions of others; they might have insight that we lack. To believe the U.S. is always right and others always wrong is naïve, dangerous and arrogant. In that light, Putin's op-ed bears sober reflection.

While I believe America's traditional values are exceptional (freedom, democracy, human equality), no portion of humanity should be considered exceptional. That is indeed a dangerous concept that may lead from repression to genocide: white vs. black, Aryans vs. Jews and Hutus vs. Tutsis. — Bruce Van Zee, Medford

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