Memorial Day

As a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, I understand all too well the importance of paying tribute to fallen heroes — some of whom I knew personally. Their sacrifices help guarantee our way of life today, and their memories live on in the hearts and minds of those who honor them.

This year on Memorial Day, I ask you to take a moment to consider how different your life would be if those men and women had not been there to defend the United States and all it stands for. The debt of gratitude we owe them and the families they left behind can never truly be repaid. Instead, we must look to their selfless courage for inspiration as we go about our daily routines enjoying the freedom they defended with their lives.

At Geisinger, we’re committed to supporting our military employees and veteran communities. We recognize the service and sacrifice of all men and women who have served, and the impact their commitment to our country has had on their families and communities. I am proud to say that over 700 veterans are now part of the Geisinger family, dedicating themselves once again to selfless service, making better health easier for everyone.

Over the past few months, as we’ve been battling a different type of enemy, a global pandemic, our frontline healthcare workers have been hailed as heroes — and rightly so. But we can never lose sight of the men and women who died in service to our country. Physical distancing requirements designed to protect us all from the spread of COVID-19 mean that many of our community events celebrating Memorial Day have been canceled, but it’s important to not let the holiday go by without recognizing the sacrifices made by so many in the defense of our great nation.

It’s often been said that “freedom isn’t free,” and on Memorial Day — like every day — that truth deserves to be honored.

J. Edward Hartle, M.D., is executive vice president and chief medical officer for Geisinger. He separated from the U.S. Air Force in 1995 after 7 years of service.

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Oversight needed

The federal government employs inspectors general (IGs) within many of the executive branch agencies. Their function is to detect and deter waste of taxpayer dollars, to prevent abuse and fraud, to discover and remedy misconduct in government programs by government personnel, and to promote economy and efficiency in the programs.

The IGs are to be independent from the programs or departments which they oversee and are to report to the appropriate department secretaries and Congress on their findings.

Unfortunately, the current administration has no time for anyone or anything which may require accountability, including the IGs. As a result, President Trump has removed five IGs within the past six weeks, most recently those in the Department of State and the Department of Transportation.

Steve Linick, who was fired Friday evening as the State Department’s inspector general, was in the final stages of an investigation into whether Secretary Pompeo and the administration had unlawfully declared an “emergency” last year to allow the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in order to circumvent Congress. He was also investigating elaborate dinners for corporate CEOs held by Pompeo and allegations that he and his wife made a political appointee carry out personal errands like walking the dog and picking up laundry.

Mitch Behm who had 17 years of experience with OIG and also lost his post on Friday was investigating Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Chao’s possible conflicts of interest and alleged favoritism benefiting her husband Senator Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) political prospects.

Other IGs recently removed by the President include: Michael Atkinson from the Department of Justice who told Congress about the whistleblower complaint that kick-started the impeachment process; Christi Grimm of the Department of Health and Human Services who authored a hospital testing report critical of the administration response to the COVID-19 pandemic; and Glenn Fine acting IG at the Department of Defense who had been named as chairman of a congressionally-mandated commission to oversee the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package.

While the GOP has remained unsurprisingly silent about the IG removals, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the Linick firing an “acceleration of the President’s dangerous pattern of retaliation against the patriotic public servants charged with conducting oversight on behalf of the American people.”

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) stated, “The firing of IGs is meant to intimidate and silence those who wish to hold corruption accountable. It’s an attack on our democracy and should trouble all members of Congress. The GOP silence on this is a dereliction of duty.”

In just over five months the American taxpayers will have the opportunity to restore transparency and accountability in Washington by truly “draining the swamp.” It is incumbent on all concerned citizens to exercise their right to vote to preserve our democracy.

David Kyle,

New Columbia

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Stimulus and school opening

Stimulus: Thank you President Trump for support Nancy Pelosi’s request for funding the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Trump’s response: Kennedy Center employees have suffered greatly, they are close, they do an incredible, beautiful job. Dems have treated us fairly, then need the funding. I love to go there. There are 750 part- and full-time employees laid off.

School opening: Some folks suggest we use UV lights for sanitation of classrooms. If sanitation of classrooms is a requirement for opening school, they would be open. UV light are not necessary.

Kindergarten age 5 and 6, age 4 with approval: Forget about masks, children this age have an attention span of about 20 seconds. Social distancing six feet apart with require one teacher for each class and two National Guardsmen. Transporting students to cafeteria six feet apart will require a full regiment of Marines. Sorry mothers, your little darlings will have to wait. Day care expense for children should be completely subsidized by the federal government, including testing.

Grades 1 through 12: The solution at present for opening schools for grades 1 through 12 is there is no solution. Opening the schools would be a logistical nightmare for administrators. Opening of schools would require a safe, proven vaccine or testing and tracking, or the virus as Trump suggests, disappears. Testing would require bus drivers, students, administration, teachers, auxiliary personnel, sanitation, food service, outside vendors, anyone entering school property. Tests would have to be proven accurate and with immediate results.

Whom do we trust to make the right decisions?

Dr. Fauci’s resume: Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease since 1984. Received 30 honorary doctorate degrees from the US and abroad, most trusted medical figure in the country.

President Donald Trump’s resume: Allergy and infectious disease experience: None. A few of Tump’s 70 remarks:

Jan. 24 — China controlling virus, thank you President Xi.

Jan. 30 — Virus under control.

Feb. 14 — Twelve people infected, getting better, good shape.

Feb. 25 — Virus under control.

Feb. 28 — Virus will disappear.

March 9 — Fake news, Dems inflame virus, no facts.

March 15 — We have control over virus.

March 20 — Stay calm, virus will go away.

April 7 — It will go away.

May 5 — Virus will disappear.

May 18 — I’m taking hydroxychloroquine, many people taking it.

William Albertson,

Milton

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Letter policy

The Standard Journal welcomes letters to the editor and encourages the use of this forum as a means of active community involvement.

Our goal is to run all signed letters to the editor in a timely manner with as little editing as possible. We ask that letters be typed, neatly printed, or emailed, and that writers be brief, making their points concisely.

Only the name and hometown of letter writers will be published in the newspaper. However, submissions must include the author’s name (typed or printed), signature (written submissions), address and telephone numbers.

We reserve the right to reject any copy or letters, but will do so only on rare occasions, typically when what is written prompts legal or ethical concerns, or when the letter is unusually lengthy. In some cases, however, we will contact writers to suggest changes that could make their letters acceptable for print.

Your opinion counts! Please write to: Letters to the Editor, The Standard-Journal 21 Arch St., Milton, PA 17847 or email newsroom@standard-journal.com.

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