Inspired witness

When I was 10 years old, my family had recently moved from a Northern state to a Southern state. We had gone to Washington, D.C., to visit my grandparents for two weeks. While we were there, we went to the Smithsonian Museum (as we did each year).

I remember how surprised and delighted we were that no one was there but us. We went outside to go from one building to another, and stopped short. There, in front of us, was a sea of people: all dressed in their Sunday best, walking 15 or 20 across, slowly and with great dignity, and all were black.

(Having been raised up North, I had hardly ever seen a black person in my life.)

My father, ever the Protector, said fearfully, “Everybody! Back inside!” (I realize in retrospect that he would have been aware of the terrible brutality directed toward African-Americans who protested.)

My mother, born and raised in Richmond, Va., spoke up (unusual for her), and said, “No! Children, there are the bravest people you will ever see in your lives! We will stand here, and show our respect for them.”

And we did, for at least an hour, until the last line of protesters had passed. I will always remember that day, because I felt as if I were in the presence of something very, very holy.

KATHERINE DONOVAN, M.D.

Wentworth Street

Charleston

Neglected duty

I have become very concerned with the way our president and his administration change laws that have been passed by Congress.

I realize that presidents have been, in the past, permitted to refuse to enforce laws that they may consider unconstitutional. However, Mr. Obama is changing laws, suspending parts of laws and even ignoring parts of laws that are on the books.

His reasons for doing so appear to be strictly political. He is doing these things to make himself look good and to get votes for Democrats in the next national election. This is just wrong.

As examples of these possibly illegal acts by the president, I offer the following:

1) Obama instructed Attorney General Eric Holder to order all U.S. attorneys to stop charging non-violent defendants in drug cases with a stiff mandatory sentence even though the law requires it. Now they are supposed to find a lighter sentence for those lawbreakers.

2) When it comes to Obamacare, not only did the president suspend the employer mandate until 2015 for big business only (not for individuals or small business), but he has allowed hundreds of waivers to be granted to selected businesses, unions and others groups who have money to donate to liberal causes.

The biggest slap in the face for the majority of Americans was the waiver granted to all congressmen and their staffs that forces taxpayers to continue to pay the 75 percent subsidy for the insurance premiums that Congress pays. This was after we were promised that those who rammed Obamacare down our throats would be participating in Obamacare and paying the same as everyone else.

Obama just keeps on and on with his “executive orders” although the Constitution does not grant him the power to do these things. The president of the United States is required to faithfully execute the laws enacted by Congress. He is not doing so.

We all should contact our members of Congress and demand that Obama be stopped from further eroding the separation of powers between the branches of our federal government. This may take drastic measures — even legal measures — but it will be the best thing we could do to ensure the future of our democracy.

Hugh S. Gwyn

Fairway Oaks Lane

Isle of Palms

Disability claims

Some time ago, The Post and Courier featured a story that about a WWII veteran who waited nearly 70 years before he received his disability payments for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Each year more than a million disability claims are made by veterans to Veteran Affairs. Some 700,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have a service-connected disability, and many military bases, including the Charleston Air Force Base, have VA disability claims class suggesting that many of our heroic servicemen serve on active duty while disabled.

Sleep apnea alone accounts for over 114,000 veterans who receive a total of $1.2 billion in payments.

These numbers are shamefully high, and one should not wait over half a century to collect hard-earned benefits. I would encourage every veteran to closely examine his medical history. There is a good chance that his condition is service connected.

Alfred Basso

Cattells Bluff

North Charleston

Wrong leader

“Not the way to run a railroad.” These words, spoken by the commissioner (excuse me, director) of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, were true in her reference to the tuberculosis debacle in Ninety Six. However, the many news items were so confusing that it is difficult to determine who did what, when and why. Needless to say it should not have happened the way it did. It was not the way to run a railroad.

These words apply perfectly to the appointment of Catherine Templeton as director of the agency. Having spent over 40 years in many Southern states, I had never witnessed the selection of an unqualified person to head a state health agency.

SCDHEC is a complex agency with many programs directed at protecting the health and the environment of our citizens. Ms. Templeton admitted this in the press, making it necessary to hire four new persons to serve as her immediate advisors, each at a salary near $100,000, rather than call upon the very qualified persons already on the DHEC staff.

It was obvious from the governor’s decision that her interest was not in selecting a person who could help preserve and improve the health of our citizens but one who would “clean house” at DHEC as Ms. Templeton did so ably in a few weeks as director of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, her first state position.

Among her first moves at DHEC was to reduce the number of regions from eight to four and ask for the resignation of the management teams from each region. Several who resigned saw the handwriting on the wall and opted not to reapply, as they were allowed to do. Several others reapplied, but few were chosen.

The regional director needs a close relationship with local elected officials because they turn to that person for information about health issues in their communities. It would be difficult for that person to develop a close relationship with officials in 8-10 counties.

Not the way to run a railroad.

In a recent guest article in The Post and Courier, a state senator said the DHEC commissioner’s position should be a Cabinet position with that person selected by and reporting to the governor. Let’s really make it political.

As said, all state health agencies such as DHEC are complex and require a person with skills in the fields of personal health and the environment, not some political hack.

Rules and regulations are devised to protect. They are not just enforcement tools but also educational measures.

A citizenry without rules spells chaos. Rules exist to benefit the community, allowing all people to live life abundantly.

I trust the new general counsel for DHEC is aware of that.

Joe Chambers, M.D.

Albemarle Road

Charleston

Dr. Chambers, who was Trident District Director for the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control for 26 years, teaches preventive medicine and public health at MUSC.

Plant a tree

Few would argue that Charleston is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Much of that beauty is derived from the many tree-lined streets and boulevards in our varied neighborhoods. The East Bay Avenue of Oaks, the trees along lower Meeting Street, the beautiful green canopy over Stocker Drive, add to the health and livability of our great city. Our gateways, however, need some tender loving care.

Savannah Highway, Sam Rittenberg Boulevard, St. Andrews Boulevard, Old Towne Road, Folly Road, North Meeting Street and the Glenn McConnell Parkway are major traffic arteries in need of improved landscaping that reflects the beauty and ambience of our region.

10,000 Trees for Charleston aims to fill that need by planting additional trees along these important corridors. Trees would add beauty, a sense of place and cleaner, cooler air to these busy thoroughfares that are traveled daily by citizens and visitors.

I ask you to help us accomplish this great goal for our city. Some may say, “I don’t live on any of those corridors.”

My answer is, neither do I, but I planted a tree in each corridor either in honor of my grandchildren or in memory of my parents. The Charlestowne Neighborhood Association and the Historic Rotary Club of Charleston each joined our group along with individual citizens. The beauty of these corridors is important to all of us.

Information can be found on our web site: http://treesforcharleston.webs.com/ and our Facebook is 10,000 Trees For Charleston.

I look forward to seeing this goal accomplished, but we need the help of every citizen, of all ages. Let’s make this happen for us, our children, grandchildren and other Charlestonians of the future.

Jimmy Bailey

Lining Street

Charleston

Flag no insult

The NAACP lost a great leader when Dr. Martin Luther King was murdered. Despite poor treatment he was successful because he eventually made more friends than enemies.

Many whites who cursed him while he lived, grieved when he died. He knew you do not make friends when you insult people’s beliefs regarding culture, heritage and history. Most people place these values above money, politics and games.

The Confederate Battle Flag was legally removed from the top of the state Capitol and placed appropriately with the monument of a Confederate soldier.

If the NAACP is successful in having the flag removed, what’s next — the monument and all such monuments in the state?

Regarding the past remark by South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier, who said, “But if anybody were to ask me about that damn Confederate flag, I would say we need to get rid of it,” I say it’s not the flag (or monument) we need to get rid of.

Ken Anderson Jr.

Planters Curve

Mount Pleasant

Over their heads

Jenny Sanford is no more qualified to be the president of the College of Charleston than Nancy Mace is to be a U.S. senator.

Mary Ducker

Huntley Drive

Charleston