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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.

*1*

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

*2*

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

*3*

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

*4*

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

*5*

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.

Simply put: If not this, then what? How do we ensure that the playing field is equitable if not with affirmative action? Please don't misunderstand my motives. As an African-American Republican, I abhor the predisposed notion that unless I receive some type of set-aside or handout from the benevolent majority, I can only aspire to be the product of my environment or circumstances. But I am a unique individual who believes wholeheartedly that the world owes me nothing and that if I want something, I must go get it.

Is affirmative action the best answer? No. But once again I pose the question, if not this then what? Lead the charge for a sensible solution before demonizing the only solution currently in use.

--Keith Trotter

*6*

Thank you Larry Miller. My son is a Marine. A heavy-machinegunner and Team Leader and is currently deployed far from home. He is just 20-years-old and carries more responsibility on a day-to-day basis than his corporate executive father has seen in a lifetime. He is--according to my experience with him and the e-mail I received today from his Battalion Commander--a man of honor, of duty, and of promise. When in a room with his Marine friends--all special operations Marines who specialize in insurgent and urban warfare--you are simply overcome with the power of their presence and the complete humility of these men.

I could not be more proud of our son. He is committed to service. It is a job that he chose freely. I want to thank Miller for so eloquently painting a portrait of Robert Ponce. In it, I can see the face of my Joshua and his friends. I miss my son; he is my best friend. It was good to see his face.

--Michael Becker

*7*

I couldn't agree more with Christopher Caldwell about the insidious influence of political nepotism, and I share his concern about the growing web of family ties in Washington (The Big Murkowski). I believe this should be examined further.

I suggest that The Weekly Standard assemble a crack team of reporters to investigate. The team could be led by John Podhoretz, Wes Pruden, and Daniel Wattenberg. For insightful analysis of the topic, you may wish to ask a few high-profile pundits such as Bill Kristol and Niger Innis.

Corruption of this sort is always open to ridicule, so perhaps a scathing satire by Christopher Buckley could be published. And, you might want to consider the possibility of turning the entire effort into a highly-rated TV exposé hosted by Chris Wallace.

--John Frey

*8*

I wanted Larry Miller to know how much I appreciated his column "Coin of the Realm." My husband is in the Navy (he's a submariner) and will be leaving soon for the Persian Gulf. The separations and the risks that we endure are incredibly difficult, but knowing that there are people out there like Miller who appreciate the sacrifices that our loved ones make in service to our country makes the separation so much easier to bear. Thank you, Mr. Miller.

--Lecia Wild

*9*

As a retired Paratrooper (101st Airborne) and the father of a career (18 years) Marine thank you to Larry Miller. My boy left for Kuwait this weekend. He liberated the place 11 years ago and I guess he's going to finish the job this time. Here's hoping they all come back healthy and soon.

--Vince Vitale

*10*

I suppose The Peacemongers are the price of democracy (Stephen F. Hayes). Perhaps, rather than travel for truth on a superficial level, they should spend a year or so in Iraq under its present regime and report back to us with their thoughts. Until then, everything they say, however noble, simply falls into an abyss of absurdity.

If I were an Iraqi moderate seeking enlightenment for my country I would not only be concerned but insulted and angry that such people could demean and disregard the horrors unleashed by a madman. Even more bizarre, like a Kafka nightmare, is their acknowledgement of playing the part of the fool. I'm lost in not only the logic, but the morality of it all.

--Alex Nicolo