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G.I. coward
After reading your article ("Ft. Bragg Soldier Flees to Canada," Feb. 11) on the "AWOL Conscientious Objector" (I absolutely REFUSE to refer to him as a soldier, as he does not rate the title), I felt inclined to write. It absolutely amazes me that a person can, of his own free will, volunteer to enlist in a military that is tasked to defend freedom against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and NOT realize the existing threat of war or conflict. This coward joined the military, and didn't understand that he might have to go to war and fire a rifle? No way. He knew. He simply chose to enlist, reap the benefits of enlistment, and deal with conflict only when and if it arose. I understand he will lose GI Bill benefits, but look at it like this: Had this conflict NOT come up during his tour, he would have collected those same college benefits, expensive perks such as medical, housing, etc. for his wife and child, pay for his service, and rode off into the sunset--always knowing he would have bailed out, had a war arisen. He took a chance. He lost. He tucked tail and ran, while his unit rode off to war. He abandoned those he recalls so fondly, when his chance to actually earn his pay and benefits came into play.

Lastly, this coward claims he could hold his head up high if he faced his fellow soldiers today? Not that he will earn that opportunity, but I seriously doubt this to be the case. That's a very easy statement to make while holing up in another country, enjoying the blanket of protection and sympathy that their equally-conscientious natives provide.

I don't make these criticisms lightly. I served as a U.S. Marine in the Gulf War during Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and would serve again if my country called, despite being a family and career man. Let Canada keep the coward. We don't need him back in the States, nor does he deserve to be allowed to return--unless, of course, it's in shackles on his way to Leavenworth for a life sentence as a deserter and traitor.
Neal Giordano

A suggestion
I am responding to your call for suggestions regarding the upcoming election. First off, let me suggest a field of candidates with the exception of Joe Lieberman, that either has a little integrity, or at least some common sense. Joe L. is the only one that has not either stuck his foot in his mouth or tried to change his position on the war. As a voter, it bothers me to have to vote for Republicans every election. There is a reason the Democratic Party has lost the South. For the most part, we are not socialist. We also do not like a party that would hold town hall meetings to find out why the Arab community hates us, rather than going after the people who smacked us in the face on Sept. 11th. Believe it or not, most of us are not pro-life nor are we for the barbaric procedure of partial-birth abortion. I could go on, but I'm sure you get the point. There are genuine candidates like Evan Bai of Indiana. Harold Ford of Tennessee, and others who many of us could believe in.
Mark Perrou

Local heroics
The N&O's coverage of John Edwards is comparable to the coverage the paper would give a local basketball team playing in the Final Four. ("I've Grown Accustomed to His Face," Feb. 11). It's not appropriate for a candidate playing in something as crucial as a national election. Definitely "Carolina Refs!"
Heidi Porter

Face value
I have to disagree with Cat Warren's criticism of the N&O's coverage of John Edwards' campaign ("I've Grown Accustomed to His Face," Feb. 11). Senator Edwards certainly is getting more coverage, but this is a useful counterbalance to the national media's coronation of John Kerry as the nominee before even a quarter of the votes were counted. Thank goodness for the N&O!
James Barrett
Chapel Hill

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