SOS, please

We must save our ship, "Spirit of South Carolina," from the auctioneer's gavel.

Several years ago, a group of elementary students from a small town just north of Charleston took an educational cruise aboard this "floating classroom."

In order to have this unique experience, they sold cookies, held garage sales, requested donations from local civic groups and finally raised the necessary tuition. Neighbors even donated sandwiches so they would have lunch available to them during the trip.

What an experience. Can you imagine the delight of those young children who had never seen the ocean, been to the beach, much less gone for a sail?

They saw creatures unknown to them, learned practical applications of physics and mathematical calculations used for navigation, all while laughing and squealing with delight. Who knows what impact this simple act may have had on just one of those children?

Perhaps the light in their eyes shone just a bit brighter after that experience.

Please, Gov. Nikki Haley, or Mayor Joe Riley, or BMW, or Boeing, someone - save this resource for our children.

Terry Williamson

Spalding Circle

Goose Creek

Downhill slide

There is no better example of how much Democratic presidents have deteriorated in more than half a century than these two simple phrases.

Harry Truman stated back in the 1940s, "The buck stops here."

Barack Obama continues to exclaim in the 21st century, "Don't blame me."

He has become the worst president in history.

Demetrius Pace

Bryjo Place

Charleston

Tourism debate

Many cities have challenges, naysayers, progressives, curmudgeons and the like. As a South Carolina native and former long-term president of the Alexandria, Va., Hotel Association, vice chairman of the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Bureau and hotel manager in the City of Charleston, I am perplexed by the confusing, anti-hospitality agenda items at City Council meetings and the lack of consideration given to the city's important tourism/hospitality employees and the important tax base the city enjoys from the sale of alcoholic beverages.

The hospitality industry is our most sacred employer on the peninsula, and our city officials and some arrogant and generally "from-off" homeowners on the peninsula are doing their level best to stop tourism and to monitor personal freedoms like having a drink after 1 a.m. What's next? No alcohol sales on Sunday?

During my time as president of the Alexandria hotel association, many issues faced our industry, including Sept. 11, 2001, where we saw tourism drastically fall off. Those included lack of enough bathrooms for our many visitors, the famed sniper in and around the Washington suburbs and yes, some people terrified we might allow gambling boats to tie off on the historic docks of Alexandria.

While some of the issues were extremely important to us and the comfort of our visitors, at no time did we allow or remotely discuss the opportunity to stop alcohol sales when the demand was there. It would have been harmful to our tax base and the employees of the city.

Charleston needs to have a clear understanding of who owns the tourism industry and to stop the bickering among groups of less enlightened folks on issues they have little knowledge of. Anything done to stop individual freedoms, such as having a drink after 1 a.m., should be stopped dead in its tracks.

Charleston has always been a city that enjoys a good time, not defined by grumpy neighbors. Hospitality industry employees in this city frankly deserve much better.

Bryan Thompson

Tidal Creek Cove

Charleston

Photo-op priority

Members of both parties in Washington seem to be upset that 80 to 90 people within the administration knew of the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl before members of Congress were notified. How silly.

Don't they know that a Rose Garden spectacle such as the one orchestrated with the Bergdahl parents doesn't happen by itself overnight?

It requires lighting, a podium to be polished and moved, sound technicians to be arranged, a speech to be drafted and redrafted, catering, florists, press invitations, arrangements for the Bergdahls to be transported and housed, Susan Rice to be briefed, etc.

Those things need staff preparation to make sure the event runs seamlessly for the cameras. So, perforce, a team has to be assembled and told what needs to be done.

Elizabeth Vary

George Vary

Black River Drive

Mount Pleasant

Opera experience

As Janácek's "Kát'a Kabanová" reached its end, I thought that if I knew nothing of opera and that was my first opera experience, I probably would never watch another one or buy any opera records. Mostly a recitative, with not a single memorable aria or duet, and including only sparse interesting bits of music, it is definitely not an opera I would like to revisit. Ditto if Menotti's "Juana la Loca" happened to be my first opera. Luckily, they were not.

Usually Spoleto brings us some classic operas (those derogatorily known as "crowd pleasers" by critics and beloved by the paying public). As far as I know, classic opera composers tried hard to please the crowd, hoping to have another chance to have their next opera staged and make a living from their music. I see nothing wrong in the goal of pleasing the audience, and I also think that ticket sales are an important source of revenue for the festival. There is nothing wrong with that.

What is wrong is the high-horse stance of critics who praise what they call "unusual operas" and those who consider those operas worthy of the ticket price because of critics' praise.

There have been many good operas during Spoleto; however, the repertoire of classic operas has by no means been exhausted. Many have never been staged at Spoleto USA.

One would hope the mix of "crowd pleasers" and critics' favorites is reinstated for the good of opera lovers, present and future.

Gabriel Virella, M.D.

Spearfish Circle

Charleston

Greek Festival

Thank you to all who attended the 2014 Greek Festival Mother's Day weekend and to the volunteers and sponsors. The Greek festivals of 2013 sent $22,000 to My Sister's House. This most recent festival will send checks to Teacher's Supply Closet and Operation Veteran Relief.

Our 2014 sponsors are too numerous to list here. You know who you are and how much you are appreciated.

Yia sas (good health to all of you).

Tom Meletis

Festival Chairman

Marshall Milligan

Parish Council President

Holy Trinity Greek

Orthodox Church

Race Street

Charleston

The exit facts

In a June 13 column about James Island Charter High School, Brian Hicks writes: "Then there was the corroborating evidence: the board already had gotten rid of the football coach and the principal in the winter."

I resigned my position as head football coach of James Island Charter High school on my own accord. I was never forced out by the James Island board of directors, and I believe anyone currently on the board will corroborate this point. I set high standards for myself . I wasn't getting the job done that I had been hired to do, so I sent an email to Mr. Bohnstengal, the principal, and Tom Hatley, the athletic director informing them of my decision to step down.

I believe both of these men will substantiate this story as well. The new head coach, Ike Allred, has asked me to stay on as an assistant. I am grateful to him for his support and excited about the upcoming season.

Before you believe what everyone says on James Island, make a few phone calls to people who actually know what it is going on.

Randy Hilyer

Montgomery Road

Charleston