Letters to the Editor
A story and a lesson
To the Editor:
One of my Christmas cards was returned to me today marked "Undeliverable." Having known the lady to whom the card had been addressed, I can only assume that she was gone. Her name doesn't matter now, in fact her given name was taken from her when she was about 16 in Eastern Europe, and she was assigned a number which stayed with her for two years in Auschwitz concentration camp, from which she was transferred to Bergen-Belsen Camp in early 1945 and from which she was eventually liberated in May of that year by the British Second Army in Germany. She weighed 50 pounds that day.
Troops of the Scottish Regiment reacted with stunned horror when the German commandant asked them to take over the cruel and obscene guard duty of the Nazi personnel. Instead he and his cohorts were assigned to hand dig enormous mass graves, one of which I remember was marked "3,000." The statistics were staggering and unbelievable, and I have my own Brownie camera photographs to prove it; such as those of the gibbet and the crates of burned and crushed human bones destined to be used as fertilizer.
Across the nearby Baltic Sea lay peaceful Sweden which had managed to remain neutral all during the terrible war raging nearby. Now as Germany collapsed, utterly defeated, the Swedes rallied to help assuage the awfulness of the concentration camps and took thousands of those inmates who had at least some prospect of survival. The woman to whom I referred earlier was one of those fortunate enough to be accepted by the Swedish people. She underwent a long physical and mental rehabilitation. I do not know how or when but eventually she came to America, married and lived in or near Seattle, Washington. For years she tried to find anyone who had been among those who liberated the Belsen Camp, and eventually she did find some of the American Field Service volunteer ambulance drivers who had in fact worked with the British Army personnel in the Camp.
I did not work inside the camp, but rather outside ferrying missions to ambulance trains or army field hospitals nearby. To handle the needs for this camp alone, the British flew in two complete field hospitals.
In 2003, at a Field Service reunion in Washington, D.C., this remarkable woman addressed us, expressing her appreciation and saying when offered a seat by the microphone, "No! I won't sit down. I'll stand to tell my story." This was the lady whose Christmas card was returned to me this week. I will never forget her nor will my wife who had dinner with her at the same meeting.
And yes, war may not be the answer, but neither is pacifism, for in the final analysis, right must eventually stand up and be counted, even if it means pulling a trigger.
Bike paths will mean longer ferry lines
To the Editor:
The December 31 Martha's Vineyard Times article about the Chappy bike path controversy might lead the reader to believe that my comments, as printed, suggest that I would prefer to exclude, or limit, bicycles here on Chappy. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not exclusionary. I personally think that Chappy is a great place to visit or to live, and I encourage the public to enjoy it.
The point I thought I had made with the reporter is as follows. I believe that a lot of the people who were originally asked if they liked the idea of a bike path had little time to think about the concept prior to answering yes. In my opinion, once they take the time to think this idea through, they will come to the understanding that there are ramifications associated with the completion of any stage of a bike path here that are by no means positive from their perspective.
Many people complain about enduring long wait times at the Chappy ferry. The proponents can say that vehicle traffic will be reduced by encouraging people to ride bikes here, and that it takes no more time to load the ferry with bicycle riders. The truth is that it takes a comparatively long time to queue up bicycle riders, load them one-at-a-time, smush them safely to make room for a vehicle, unload them one at a time, then get them out of the way for the boat to be reloaded for the return trip. More time loading and unloading equates to longer waiting in line and longer lines.
So, my point with the reporter was that bicycle clubs and bicycle enthusiasts are always looking for a new bicycle destination. I believe Chappy would be a great bicycle destination if we construct a bike path here. To support my argument I'd like to call attention to the dramatic changes in the last two to three years at Cape Pogue. On any day, from spring until late fall, there can be as many as 30 to 50 boaters who have beached their boats just inside the gut, and up to 20 kite boarders zipping back and forth. Cape Pogue has become a destination site for boaters and kite boarders.
I don't object to long ferry lines, and I don't mind waiting while our ferry captains safely load bicycle groups on the boats. I just think that one of those ramifications I refer to is the likeliness of longer ferry lines and longer waiting in those lines.
Emergency training for school personnel
To the Editor:
On January 6 and 7, staff from the Martha's Vineyard Public Schools and various town officials participated in a two-day Island-wide school emergency training session presented by Graham Campbell of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and Anne Gilligan of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The participants included members of Martha's Vineyard's police departments, fire departments and emergency management teams, as well as other town departments and school personnel. It is anticipated that additional meetings will take place over the next few months and result in the development of school safety plans.
Thanks go to Rich Townes, Tisbury emergency management director, for organizing and coordinating this important event and to the Martha's Vineyard Transit Authority for providing the space.
James H. Weiss
Superintendent of Schools
To the Editor:
Are the seiners going to steal your bait in 2009?
They will if new regulations being proposed by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries are approved.
Right now the DMF is proposing to allow vessels up to 72 feet long, which have never done so before, to harvest menhaden with purse seine gear anywhere they like, as much as they like.
In the notice the DMF sent out to announce public hearings at the end of January, they are proposing to allow never before permitted vessels up to 72 feet, to access all of our states waters and fish for menhaden, mackerel, and sea herring with purse seines. One single set or haul can yield literally hundreds of thousands of individual fish, depleting an area of these species in a very short time.
Menhaden? Menhaden, or pogies, are like herring - silverish, around one foot long and travel in huge schools. They are a major part of the diets of some commercially and recreationally important species, like striped bass, bluefish, and summer flounder (fluke). Just about all of the species of fish that travel here for the warmer months eat them, and they are a favored bait of many fishermen. Menhaden have been called the most important fish in the ocean. Other than use as bait for fishing, menhaden are also used for lobster bait and are used for reduction to make animal feed, pet foods and vitamin supplements.
Until a few years ago, menhaden were scarce here in Massachusetts waters. Fishermen who wanted to use them for bait would typically have to buy them. In the last few years, menhaden have been showing up in greater numbers and that's been a good thing for our fishermen and for the fish too. Fishermen have been able to get their own bait, and the fishing has been good, especially in the fall. More bait locally means more fish for all of us and that's a good thing, right?
There is really no good reason for the state to do this. There is already one seiner who regularly fishes Massachusetts waters, and that's enough. The demand simply isn't there. The bait stores have enough bait, the fishermen are able to get their own or buy it and that's a good balance. The conflicts created by this proposed regulation outweigh the benefits to the public, and that isn't what good fisheries management is supposed to do. It is supposed to manage the fisheries to the maximum benefit of the fish and the public that consumes them.
This proposal does neither. All this will do is allow a very few persons to deplete a resource that we all need and locally deplete stocks of both forage species and the prey fish who consume them.
If you fish for fun or a living here in Massachusetts, I urge you to contact the Massachusetts DMF and tell them you are against this proposal. You can reach the director, Paul Diodati, at 617-626-1530.
Guns and sneakers
To the Editor:
The outgoing, twice-elected Bush/Cheney administration should be feted for its strong support of Israel, America's most reliable ally in the Middle East. Also, for reversing the old Eisenhower/Republican Middle East policy of "Guns for the Arabs and sneakers for the Jews," a policy now advocated by the American liberal left.
Peter Colt Josephs
To the Editor:
Here's an interesting little song I found in my old vinyl albums last week. The song was sung by the Kingston Trio and written by Sheldon Harnick in 1958. Save for the fact that some of the countries are different, it really sounds like not much has changed.
The Merry Minuet
They're rioting in Africa
They're starving in Spain
There are hurricanes in Florida
and Texas needs rain.
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls
The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles
Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch
and I don't like anybody very much.
But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For man's been endowed with a mushroom shaped cloud
And we know for certain that some lucky day
Someone will set the spark off and we will all be blown away.
They're rioting in Africa
There's strife in Iran
What nature doesn't do to us
will be done by our fellow man!
Question 2 will work
To the Editor:
As Question 2 is being implemented across the state, opponents just can't resist clamoring that the new law reducing penalties for adult possession of an ounce or less of marijuana will somehow cause the sky to fall.
The law isn't nearly as complicated as some suggest, nor does it tie the hands of law enforcement officers or local officials. For example, it has been reported that under Question 2, smoking marijuana in public is now just a civil offense ("New pot law poses question on enforcement," Martha's Vineyard Times, January 8, 2009). This is incorrect.
The public use of marijuana was not specifically a crime before Question 2 took effect, because it wasn't needed - offenders were simply arrested for possession.
But there is nothing in Question 2 to prevent towns and cities from enacting ordinances making public use an offense. In fact, Question 2 specifically reserves that right to localities. They merely need to ensure they do so in a manner that doesn't conflict with the intent of Question 2.
Question 2 will work. It is already working where officials are making an honest effort at implementation. But for those still fighting the new law, refusing to respect the will of 65 percent of Massachusetts voters will backfire long before the provisions of Question 2 do.
Editor's Note: In a telephone conversation, Nathan Miller, who is an attorney, said there is a legal distinction between "smoking" and "possessing" marijuana in public. Though he agrees that smoking is by definition possession, he contends it is inaccurate to write that it "is now only a civil offense to smoke marijuana in public." We disagree. While Mr. Miller points out police could arrest someone for violating a town ordinance prohibiting disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, or public intoxication, in the view of police interviewed for The Martha's Vineyard Times article, no one could be arrested on a charge of possessing marijuana in quantities of less than an ounce, in public or anywhere else. Under current state or local laws, such persons could only be cited for a civil violation.
Despite the weather, thanks
To the Editor:
While the weather hampered some well-laid plans for Martha's Vineyard's Last Night First Day celebration, we would like to recognize the role played by The Martha's Vineyard Times calendar section in meticulously organizing and presenting the program in its special pull-out section. The graphics, as always, were lively and eye-catching. The posters were all the rage as they kept disappearing after being posted.
This year's line-up of entertainers was the best ever. We thank all of them for participating and to Jynell Kristal for being the brains behind the schedule. As long as cold weather continues, you can still enjoy the ice sculptures by the Linden Tree and at Saltwater in the Tisbury Marketplace. And, thanks to the folks at Saltwater, the Tisbury Fire Department, Bernier Markets, Cumberland Farms, MVOL, Tisbury Stop and Shop and the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce for their generous sponsorship of this family-friendly community event.
We especially would like to recognize the numerous individuals and loyal local businesses, churches and non-profits who gave cash or in-kind donations helping to underwrite this great family event. Our local businesses and citizens are asked to support many worthy causes and organizations. We recognize that and thank you for supporting Tisbury EMTs.
Some people have all the luck. Andy and Peyton Berry of Vineyard Haven attended the Black Tie High Top Ball and bought a chance on a prize in a balloon that turned out to contain raffle tickets for the Big Boston Get-Away. You guessed it. Theirs was the winning ticket picked at the Crazy Zany Hat Parade. Have a great 2009.
Melinda Loberg and Jeffrey Pratt