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Not a lot to be proud about America

In response to Peter Centineo’s Dec. 19 letter, the schools did not take away the choice to say the Pledge of Allegiance at all. Every child had and still has the choice to say or not to say the pledge.

I remember saying the pledge every morning in grade school when we stayed in one classroom all day. Then in junior high we said the pledge in “home room” each morning. In high school we did not have a “home room,” just the first class of the day. Some classes said the pledge, and some did not. The ones that did not I suppose just did not want to use up class time on the pledge but to use it to study their subject.

And why is it up to the schools to teach the kids pride in America? What about the parents?

Not a lot to be prideful about in America these days. A country that cares more about the Kardashians, and other “reality TV” stars than they do about the homeless living on the streets of their own cities. A do-nothing Congress, Senate and president. No, not a lot to be prideful about.

Kevin Abeln, Sturgis

Inequality takes away opportunity

Yes, Cal Thomas (Dec. 19), surely today's youth envy your entry-level jobs paying you many times today's rates (considering inflation) and envy your “opportunity through education, risk-taking, experience and hard work to eventually make more.”

Today, hoarding and unbridled greed on high have shrunk middle-class opportunities and sequestered record-bursting wealth -- mostly because taxes favoring “hard work” have been drowned in Grover Norquist's bathtub.

America's founders were determined to regulate unfair advantages such as special taxes favoring King James' East India Company tea. Through rigorously scrutinizing state charters each year, they tried to ensure commerce supported the public good and that businesses were not buying legislation and subverting elections. We can well envy that!

Today's corporate elite squeeze unfair opportunities unto themselves, leaving us fighting over scraps. We live by their lobbyists' rules while a government meant to referee everlasting struggles between rich and poor has been bought, downsized and eviscerated.

Our once-envied systems of education, research, transportation, public utilities, parks, recreation, mail and justice decline. Public money flows to surveillance, wars, militarized policing and unprecedented levels of incarceration to protect billionaires whom King James could well envy.

Let’s hope we wake up and co-create those opportunities once again.

Dowell Caselli-Smith, Rapid City

We're free to express religious beliefs

Friday’s Journal reported an article from Los Angeles that stated “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson is off the hit A&E reality series.

Robertson was accused of discrediting practicing homosexuals by comparing their sinful practices to the sins of adulterers and swindlers. Supporting biblical references: Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 12-20; 1 Timothy 1: 8-11; 1 Peter 1:13-21;

Revelation 21:8; 22:14-15, etc.

Christianity-phobic people, including TV corporations similar to A&E, who support the practice of homosexuals’ special rights, have no right in criticizing and administering unlawful punishment for one’s personal and public expression of their religious opinions and beliefs. Such show of Christian-phobic intolerance and discriminatory remarks levied toward Robertson are in opposition to the Constitution of the U.S., Amendment 1.

Tom Jefferson: “Almighty God hath created the mind free. All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens … are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion. … No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion.”

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Ernest Foss Jr., Black Hawk

Thank you for generous donation

Hillsview Highrise tenants in Sturgis wish to say a special thank you to the Sturgis Rally Charities Foundation for their outstanding gift. This gift will allow at least 100 nutritional meals to be served to those who otherwise would not have the funds to purchase such a meal on the weekends. Thanks much!

Deb Looby, Tenant Services Officer, Hillsview Highrise, Sturgis

Will lawmakers protect our water?

Powertech’s uranium mining plan includes a Central Processing Plant which, in addition to processing its own uranium, will entice other uranium companies to begin ISR (In Situ Recovery) mining in the Black Hills, utilizing Powertech’s plant. (Nine mining companies have already shown an interest in mining uranium here.)

Powertech is now dominated by ownership with Hong Kong headquarters. Allowing a foreign company to profit from such vast use of our land, and excessive use of our aquifer water, and to encourage others to do the same, would be a national defeat and a robbery of immensely precious resources, now and for all ages.

With such cumulative impacts, at what point will South Dakotans put a stop to the abuse of the Black Hills region as a national sacrifice area? Will our legislators protect us -- our health and our agriculture and tourism economies -- from this dangerous and polluting industry by enacting state laws with teeth? Will South Dakota pressure the EPA and NRC to shun influence by the monies they receive from the industries they regulate, and look skeptically upon the unsubstantiated assurances of mining corporations?

Speak up, South Dakotans! Ask legislators to keep our water safe and secure.

Sylvia Lambert, Interior

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