Letters to editor: July 13

July 13, 2013 

John C. Breckinridge knew when to admit Civil War defeat

As our Civil War sesquesentenial moves through its third year, many of us are reflecting on the words and wisdom of Abraham Lincoln. Some are also remembering the visionary compromises negotiated by Henry Clay that prevented war during his lifetime. Lincoln and Clay set many good examples.

Another Kentuckian who made history during that time was John C. Breckinridge. You probably remember that he was a U.S. senator, our youngest vice president, a candidate for president and a Confederate general.

But his most signifcant contribution to our history was something he did as Confederate secretary of war in April, 1865. Conferring with Gen. Robert E. Lee on April 2 and with Gen. Joseph Johnston about a week later, he gave both official authorization to negotiate the surrender of their armies.

He saw that it was time to end the bloodshed and "bind the nation's wounds." Meanwhile, Jefferson Davis was calling for a guerilla war to the last man.

So it fell to Breckinridge to do the right thing. He was the proverbial adult in the room at a crucial moment.

Tom Louderback

Louisville


Doesn't add up

Your headline story on July 1 quotes STEAM Academy instructor R. Michael Sheetz as saying, "The only thing that makes math difficult is the way it's always been taught . . ."

Always? That's a bold claim. I think it's inaccurate. For example, in 1961 many public high schools in California started to offer the SMSG (School Mathematics Study Group) curriculum developed at Yale as a project of the National Science Foundation. It included providing high- school teachers with two summers of orientation about the program, held at such campuses as Reed College and Stanford. My teachers were dedicated and informed. Their teaching and classes were exciting.

Sheetz says that STEAM Academy students will become "experts in algebra." Well, fine. More important, I think, is that they understand that the essence of mathematics is logic and clear thinking. That includes the ability to avoid making unwarranted statements, including those that denigrate good math teachers (and teaching) from an earlier era.

John Thelin

Lexington


Keep the faith

I recently read a letter to the editor criticizing Lincoln County High School's senior class president for offering a prayer on behalf of his classmates at their graduation ceremony. It saddened me greatly because the writer took a verse of scripture out of context and tried to apply it to the graduation prayer. The verses quoted (Matthew:6:1,5) refer to the religious authorities of the first century. While Jesus was advocating private prayer in this case, in another case (Matt. 14:19) he prays publicly by blessing the bread. Then, look at the Lord's Prayer. It begins with "Our" and is filled with "us" and "we."

I am pretty sure the class president had no intention of "calling attention" to himself by offering a prayer at graduation. To him I say: You have your whole life ahead of you, hold on to your faith, care about others and continue to do the things that you feel are honorable and right.

The Rev. Betsy D. Steiner

Paris


Arming terrorists

Sen. Mitch McConnell decided to address terrorism by making it easier for terrorists to have unfettered access to all the guns and ammunition they can carry. His goal isn't to keep guns out of terrorist hands, but to make sure we don't erect any unnecessary barriers to their getting them. Apparently U.S. troops just have to learn how to shoot the bad guys before they get shot.

The annual $70 billion international arms trade is a major source of human rights abuses and violence against women and children. Weapons remain a leading cause of child and adolescent deaths across the globe. The unfettered world arms trade facilitates conflicts, regional instabilities, human displacement, terrorism and international crime.

So naturally, McConnell and the GOP would join Syria, Iran and North Korea in voting against ratification of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty and regulation of international arms trade.

McConnell excused his vote by saying it could give the U.N. control over the rights of U.S. citizens to keep and bear arms. One must actually read the first page of the treaty to know it specifically forbade any regulation within the borders of the signatories, and addressed only arms trade between nations.

McConnell's vote suggests he believes arms should remain easier for terrorists to secure. You must admire a U.S. senator who doesn't just avoid dealing with our social problems, but actually makes them worse by inserting fearmongering into an issue that shouldn't have even been open for uninformed debate.

Peter Wedlund

Lexington


Thanks, McConnell

I have had type 1 diabetes (T1D) most of my life and am ready for a cure. Most of all, I don't want to grow older with complications from diabetes, including blindness, kidney disease and even amputations. Not only do these complications scare me, but I have seen firsthand what they have done to so many of my relatives and friends who have struggled with this disease. There is hope, thanks to groundbreaking medical research, especially the Special Diabetes Program (SDP), which is even happening here in Kentucky.

The SDP was renewed at the end of last year. It is finding ways to better understand why this disease exists and, perhaps one day, a cure for it. The program has also advanced key technologies like the artificial pancreas, a device that will automatically monitor blood sugars and inject insulin as needed, which could help prevent complications. That advance could be life-changing for me in the future, and my mom would not always have to worry so much about me.

While we wait, I am grateful for Sen. Mitch McConnell's support for the Special Diabetes Program that will help me and others who look forward a T1D-free future, and less worry for our families.

Emilee Fairchild

Paintsville

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