Letters 02/16/11

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Thanks for cleanup

I would like to thank Darryl McPeters, Danny Orange, and Art Reed for cleaning up the trees thrown down the slopes on Murray Hollow Road, 43 to be exact. Since last year. Our road looks so much better.

Wynnie Foster

Senseless acts

    The recent trials of two estranged husbands murdering their wives should give us pause to reflect on the senselessness of these brutal acts of cowardice. These women did not deserve such an abrupt end to their lives. The trials ended in guilty verdicts for the estranged husbands.
    What were the murderers thinking as they removed the life force from the women they exchanged wedding vows with? “You will do as I say!” or perhaps it was “You will not do what I forbid!” It comes down to power and control. Some of the insecure of the world have the need to abuse those close to them.
    Victims of domestic violence need a safe place to live without the threat  and fear of abuse. Please call Bedford Domestic Violence Hotline at (540) 587-0970 or the VA Family Violence Hotline at 1-800-838-8238 for more information on the dynamics of family violence, resources, or what you can do to help.

Valerie Almond
Shelter Worker, BDVS

Bedford bust
or busted?
    Bedford - the World’s Best Little Town - is being disgraced by a bust of a killer of thousands of human beings.  So why is Bedford wanting to show this person a place in history when his own country did not?
    I have been on the tallest hill in Bedford since the first shovel of dirt was moved, to Normandy twice to see where our Bedford Boys gave their lives, and worked at the National D-Day Memorial in past years in a paid position and as a volunteer.  So why does the National D-Day Foundation and/or Trustees want to kill our precious memorial and tourism in our town?
    The bust, which will remain nameless, is a disgrace to our Bedford Boys!
    Bedford citizens - stand up and be proud of what we opened on June 6, 2001 and keep it pure and true to its initial concept!
Linda H. Zimmerman
Commentary raises more questions

    The commentary in the January 26 Bedford Bulletin by National D-Day Memorial Foundation President Robin E. Reed raises a number of questions:
    1. With its Stalin bust, busts of six other political leaders, planned Allied political leaders exhibit, and increasing emphasis on the broader aspects of World War II, is the foundation being true to the purpose of the memorial? True to the foundation’s mission as declared to the Internal Revenue Service? The short answer seems to be “no.”
    “Mission creep” is suggested in Mr. Reed’s emphasis on “telling the full story,” teaching “about D-Day and on a larger scale about the history of the war,” educating visitors “about World War II and the history of the invasion,” new projects related to Lend Lease and to NATO, and the degree of emphasis he gives to political leaders and addressing Stalin’s “crimes against humanity and his role in starting the Cold War.” 
    The stated purpose of the memorial is “to honor the valor, fidelity, and sacrifice of Allied forces of D-Day, 6 June 1944.”  In its Form 990 returns to the I.R.S., the foundation has declared that its mission is “To memorialize the valor, fidelity, and sacrifice of the Allied forces on D-Day, 06/06/44” and that it conducts “Activities relating to the establishment and maintenance of a memorial to the Allied Forces who participated in the 1944 Normandy, France invasion.”
    The seven political busts honor political leaders, not Allied D-Day forces, and four of these had no role in the command of D-Day forces. Roosevelt, Churchill, and de Gaulle at least were national leaders of their respective D-Day forces. Truman and Attlee did not become heads of government until the year following D-Day. Soviet and Chinese forces, under the leadership of Stalin and Chiang Kai-shek, respectively, did not participate in the D-Day operation.
    Instead of raising and spending money for displays of political leaders, the foundation should be funding and installing statuary honoring those Allied forces that have been slighted in terms of having no statuary—D-Day forces of the U.S. Navy, Army Air Forces, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine as well as nine D-Day Allies whose flags fly at the memorial.
     The focus and priority of the memorial should be honoring Allied D-Day forces, and educational efforts should be related to this purpose.
    2. Are statuary and plaques two of the main ways of honoring people and units at the memorial, and won’t the bust of Stalin be seen as honoring him? The short answer is “yes.”
    The statues of American soldiers in action were the first means used by the memorial to honor Allied D-Day forces. These were followed by plaques memorializing the Allied dead and honoring Allied units and selected individuals and by the statue honoring General Eisenhower, placed under a columned dome similar to the way President Jefferson is honored at the Jefferson Memorial, and by busts of six flag-officer deputies to General Eisenhower.
    Mr. Reed says the foundation would never seek to honor Stalin, but statuary at memorials are seen as honoring those portrayed, and visitors who see statuary honoring Allied forces will believe the Stalin bust honors him. If they read the plaque that has accompanied the Stalin bust they will be confused by reading about his crimes and then seeing the suggestion that, somehow, the bust of Stalin on a pedestal memorializes his victims and honors those who opposed him in the Cold War.
    3. To what extent did Stalin influence D-Day? Mr. Reed’s statements that “Stalin had a great deal to do with the Invasion” and his statement about the Stalin plaque “illuminating Stalin’s role in the planning of Operation Overlord” are exaggerated, to say the least. The US and UK military had been planning Operation Overlord and had reported in August 1943 a target date of May 1, 1944. At the Tehran Conference, Stalin, who had been pressing for the invasion, did gain commitment from Roosevelt and Churchill to launch Overlord in May 1944, in conjunction with an operation against Southern France. Stalin said that Soviet forces would launch an offensive at about the same time to help prevent German forces from deploying from the Eastern Front to the Western Front. The Soviet Union was not involved in detailed planning, including the location of the Overlord attack, and Soviet forces did not participate in the invasion. The promised Soviet offensive was launched 16 days after the invasion. As for the Stalin plaque’s “illumination,” the plaque merely states that “At the Tehran Conference (November 1943), he influenced D-Day’s date and place…,” and the suggestion that Stalin influenced the place is an exaggeration.
    The role of the Soviet Union and operation of Soviet forces against German forces on the eastern front, as they relate to D-Day, could be addressed in a plaque, without a bust honoring Stalin. 
    4. How can the foundation claim a “majority opinion” in favor of an expanded political leaders section that includes the Stalin bust? Mr. Reed suggests there is a majority opinion viewing as a positive development the creation of a new section at the memorial for political leaders, including Stalin. Whom did he poll? What facts can he produce to back his claim?
    Do people really believe that moving the Stalin bust from a location about 95 yards east of the Victory Arch to a new location, possibly near the large flag pole and the busts of Truman, Attlee, and de Gaulle some 160 yards south of the Victory Arch, will make much difference?
     To the contrary, the National Convention of the American Legion, representing over 2.5 million Legionnaire veterans, has declared that “The American Legion feels it is inappropriate to display the bust of Joseph Stalin in any location at the National D-Day Memorial.” The Bedford County Board of Supervisors unanimously has opposed the Stalin bust.  Public polls and forums have run 80-95 percent against the Stalin bust. An on-line petition has been joined by over 4,600 people from all 50 states and over 40 countries opposing the Stalin bust.  The Central and East European Coalition, representing 20 million Americans who trace their ancestry to that area, are opposed to the Stalin bust.
     Summary: The foundation, in planning to reinstall the Stalin bust, is not being true to the memorial’s purpose, will be seen as again honoring Stalin with a bust on a pedestal at a memorial to Allied D-Day forces, is misleading people about Stalin’s role in the D-Day Invasion, and is claiming a majority opinion in favor of reinstalling the Stalin bust when most of the public expressing its views and organizations representing millions of veterans and other citizens are opposed to the bust. It is time for the foundation to decide and announce that never again will there be a bust or statue of Stalin at the memorial.
James W. Morrison