Letters to the Editor

DEATH WISH

To the Editor:
The story "Sudden Death" by Jeannette Batz (RFT, March 17) was interesting, and I sympathize with the family of James Markham, but what is he going to gain now that he is dead? Or, what is it the family wants? Money? An apology?

My wife, Pat, died of lymphatic cancer/leukemia at age 69 after 17 years of suffering. She knew she was dying, I knew, and our five sons and their families knew, so we had time to get ready. In her last days, while Pat was still viable and conscious, the out-of-towners came in, and we made our peace with her since we knew the end was near. In those days the boys' families said their goodbyes and made peace with her.

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Pat's doctor had her legal permission just to keep her comfortable in her final days, which is in keeping with Catholic Church law.

Son Scott and I were with her the day she died, and I didn't feel horrified that the others weren't there at the "bitter end." They showed their love for her all the years before.

I feel for nurses in all cases like Pat's and Mr. Markham's when they lose a patient. Pat was a nurse, and she always predicted more nurses would cry when she died than the family, because they can get so attached to a patient (especially after 17 years). She was correct. Even with the doctor's orders and the legal permission to let her die peacefully, the nurses rushed in when Scott and I told them she had quit breathing, and I had to stop them.

Going the extra step to keep someone's heart beating just for the sake of a sign of life and nothing else sustained is heart-balming to whom? Certainly not the dying patient.

The article tugs at the heart, but I wonder if they don't have families also complaining that they keep the relative alive too long. Can't win for losing.

Bill Bandle

CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM

To the Editor:
As a onetime employee of YEHS, I've discussed Eddie Silva's article on YouthBuild ("Reclamation Project," RFT, March 17) with numerous building-trades professionals, master craftsmen, mechanics, architects, and property- and construction-management pros, and we unanimously question Bob Brandhorst's claim that any of his child-labor programs has ever produced even an apprentice level of training. Journeyman's experience just doesn't happen without a five-year apprenticeship, which requires a high-school diploma. For Brandhorst to claim that his programs provide this level of training is an outright fraud and a horrible disservice to the kids he has lured out of high school to build his little empire, funded by the taxpayers, of course.

Frank L. Hornback

SWISS MISS

To the Editor:
In her March 17 letter, Judy Hogan writes, "Each Swiss citizen is provided a rifle and ammunition and is considered an able part of a militia of normal citizens."

Not quite. As an ex-St. Louisan living in Geneva, this is not the first time I've heard Switzerland's military and gun policies misrepresented this way. The fact is that every able-bodied male is required to serve two years in the military and serve in the reserves until age 49. Part of this does indeed involve keeping a gun and ammunition in the home.

But the part that Hogan and others always seem to conveniently leave out is that each gun -- and every bullet -- is registered and accounted for. If one of these guns is used in a crime, it is easily traceable. Also, they must be disassembled and stored in a very precise manner, and the use of guns for any other purpose is tightly controlled.

Hogan is right that Switzerland, like most countries that have strict gun-control laws, has a very low crime rate (although she is mistaken in her contention that it is the lowest). But when she contends that "Switzerland has never been in a war" or that "Switzerland has no standing army," that shows her understanding of Swiss history and Swiss military to be about as accurate as her understanding of Swiss gun laws.

Michael Gibson

To the Editor:
As usual, the vote on any gun-related measure has provoked the predictable amount of heated rhetoric. However, I could not help but notice that what seemed to me to be, by far, one of the more important points in this debate has been left by the wayside. Whether states that are more lax in their gun control have had recent drops in violent crime (a drop that they share with states with a more strict outlook on gun control) or the fact that a concealed handgun would do little to help you in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting, there is one crucial fact that has been ignored.

Concealed-weapons advocates are arguing strenuously in every available forum that we need to carry guns with us to protect ourselves from criminals who prey on the otherwise unarmed individual. And that our Missouri citizenry is walking the streets unprotected due to our "archaic" laws.

And here we have what amounts to be a lie by omission: Missourians are being led to believe (by all of this "protect yourself from the muggers and thieves" rhetoric) that they cannot carry weapons in public.

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