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Letters: Race Relations, PTSD

John Moe

Millie Jefferson

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Sen. Barack Obama speaks in Florida
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We share a sampling of letters and emails from listeners reacting to our recent stories on race relations in America and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among older veterans:

I'm African-American. I think that I'm a fairly well-rounded and average individual. I have just as many white friends as African-Americans. It's not that I don't trust whites. I just don't wholly believe it when you say "we're all equal". I think that for the most part, we all want this as Americans, but recent history -- this forum in fact -- shows that it isn't the case. I mean, Hillary makes a comment about assassination, and suddenly we're fearing for Obama's life. What's that say about race relations in America to me? It tells me that there is a strained politeness tinged with fear on both sides. We've come a long way, and we have a ways to go. But in my honest and humble opinion, that's where we stand. This may be a sweeping indictment and imperfect at best. But it is what it is.

Terrill Dunn
St. Louis, Mo.

I am a 56-year-old white, single woman who has lived in a rent-subsidized apartment for the past five years. In my former life, I lived in a very white environment, and rarely thought about race because it rarely touched my daily life. I always thought I based my reactions on individual actions rather than race. But for five years now, I have fought an increasingly difficult battle in my mind against generalization about the people I see come and go. Sometimes I wonder if the only way I cannot think on racist lines is to just keep a distance, but then I wonder if maybe it's just the opposite.

Catherine Goings
Lansing, Mich.

I enlisted in the Navy in 1951 at age 17. When I look back, it is hard to fathom the depth of ignorance in which I swam. In the East Tennessee working-class neighborhood, Truman's decision to call Korea a "police action" worked so well that it never rose to our level of discussion which was dominated by gossip and affairs of survival. Keep in mind that our sources of information were limited to radio which was dominated by country music and the daily paper which concentrated on local news. All I knew about Korea was that it was "over there" and something Russia had done.

After boot camp, Airman school and electrician school I was assigned the job of plane captain in Carrier Air Group 19. After some training of brand-new pilots we boarded the Essex-class carrier Oriskany and set out for Korea. Few people realize what a savage little place Korea was during the war. U.S. troops killed in action, missing in action and wounded in Korea averaged 131 per day, compared to 63 in Vietnam and 15 in the current war.

The Korean War was fought on a shoestring with WWII leftovers. My foul-weather gear was canvas with fur lining -- except there was no fur left. The WWII carrier had been jury-rigged to handle the heavier and faster planes which had been developed. The combination of aircraft fuel, ammunition and lots of big things moving fast which could bite the unwary made the flight deck a very hazardous place. I would characterize my attitude while on deck as being in a constant state of apprehension and watchfulness.

The war had ceased to be one of movement and had become trench warfare across the peninsula. We provided air support from daylight 'till dark, which made for long days of little sleep and lots of apprehension and watchfulness.

I was so busy getting an education and starting a family that I missed most of 'Nam but I have followed the current conflict closely. As I watch and listen to the stories of our current warriors. I sympathize with them for if they live to a ripe old age they will spend at least a little of each and every day in Iraq on patrol.

I have never considered myself to have PTSD, but as I look back I think the nine months of stress have affected my life in a negative way for more than half a century.

Charles Moulton
Knoxville, Tenn.

More stories from our Letters series


  • Comment | Refresh

  • By Ali Khajawall

    From Las Vegas, NV, 06/06/2008

    Dear American Voters,

    Hon. Senator McCain and Obama, besides each of them having many attributes, qualification, and characteristics. The critical differences between the two respected presidential presumptive nominees are ? under:

    1. Presidential "Temperament and Composer".
    2. Little Washington "insider Versus outsider" experience.
    3. Vision and mission for our nation future rather than past.
    4. American policies, " first USA centric" than any other country [ ies ] centric.

    In my professional opinion one hon. senator has it and the other does not.

    The need of our next movement is that our Greatgrand Nation has to address many present and future challenges and utilize opportunities with a new clean slate and Senator. I am sure RNC and other groups will use seduction, confusion, and deception to win.

    The American people are too smart to see thru their seduction, confusion, and deception.

    God Bless America. its diverse people, and our Greatgrand Nation.

    Our Greatgrand nation needs real change and change in inconsistant leadership, at every level and thru next few decades.

    I am sure Senator Obama with help of senator Clinton can deliver that real change in washington and its past leadership.

    Stay involved, stay engaged, and stay informed. Do not let any incoming seduction, deception, and or confusion effect your vote[s].

    Yours truly,

    COL. [retd] A.M.Khajawall MD
    Disabled American Veteran.
    Forensic psychiatrist, Las Vegas NV

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