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Top 10 Letters

Race, Republicans, a ball girl speaks, Larry Miller's military coin, and more.

11:00 PM, Jan 19, 2003
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THE DAILY STANDARD welcomes letters to the editor. Letters will be edited for length and clarity and must include the writer's name, city, and state.


Thanks for Larry Miller's wonderful article about the Marine who gave him a coin (Coin of the Realm). I'm sure Miller knows that unit coins are very important to servicemen and women. They are usually handed out by commanding officers as informal awards for jobs well done. It could be for a tank crew who gets the highest score on the live-fire range or the soldier with the highest physical fitness score for the quarter.

In a job where the monetary rewards are minimal, these small round pieces of brass mean a great deal to a soldier who only wants to do the best he possibly can for his country.

I wish Sergeant Ponce and the rest of the soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen the best and pray for their safe return from a mission that unfortunately must be done. I only wish more of Miller's colleagues in Hollywood had as much respect for our men and women in uniform he does.

--Kile Anderson


Larry Miller has just been made part of a very old military tradition. Military personnel carry coins from their units which they use to challenge each other. If you're in an officers' club, you may see someone show his coin to another officer. That officer now has to produce his coin or he buys the challenger a drink. If he has his coin, the challenger buys. If the challenger is really ballsy, he can slap his coin on the bar, which means that everyone has to produce a coin. Whoever doesn't have one has to buy a round. If everyone has one, the challenger buys. I suspect that the tradition evolved from another tradition, which involves a newly commissioned officer giving a silver dollar to the first enlisted soldier who salutes him. The way that it's done now is that commanders or command NCOs give out unit coins, usually for excellence or achievement that doesn't warrant a decoration. The higher the rank of the presenter, the more coveted the coin (I've got a coin from a two-star general for organizing our family day events at the last minute when the Officer In Charge dropped the ball). These coins usually have the rank of the presenting soldier and a notation that the coin is an award.

The Marine who gave Miller his coin was welcoming him into the brotherhood. He should keep it and make sure he has it on hand when he entertains the troops. At the very least, he'll save on his bar bill.

--Mike Harris, Captain, United States Army Reserve


I always enjoy Larry Miller's articles, but "Coin of the Realm" was particularly evocative. I re-read the paragraph about European Jews with accents several times. It's funny how some things from the past can seem so insignificant at the time and yet end up among our most cherished memories. Despite my very un-Jewish last name, my mother's side of the family was of Eastern-European Jewish descent. I, too, can fondly remember large family gatherings full of people with those distinctive accents. I regret that my two children will never know firsthand the warmth and richness of this aspect of their heritage. I've recently embarked on a program to teach my 14-year-old daughter one Yiddish word a day. Sadly, with my limited command of the language, the lessons may not last much more than a couple of weeks.

But Miller's article was really about the coin. There is a significant story and heritage about the military coin which people may not be aware of. Try this link to the Museum at Travis Air Force Base for some background.

--Jesse McVay


I enjoyed reading David Skinner's You're a Good Man, Gary Carter. I am a huge Gary Carter fan and was thrilled to hear about his recent victory. I was a ball girl for the NY Mets back in 1988 and enjoyed spending time with Gary. I was/am a big Gary Carter fan not only because of his athletic abilities but because he is such a nice all around person. I've not seen him in years and that saddens me. I would love for him to meet my husband and 3-year-old daughter. I hope I can get to Port St. Lucie this Spring on a day that I know he'll be there.

--Sharon Fiumefreddo


While the core ideas represented in Lee Bockhorn's article, Take a Stand in Michigan, are incontrovertible, it still fails to address the core issue of that is at question.