On July 1, I put up a new American flag and red, white and blue bunting on my porch railing. I am one of 40,000 living veterans who served on active duty in three wars (or conflicts if you like that description) and so I have more than a passing interest in celebrating Memorial Day, the 4th of July and Veterans Day.

As I worked on this project I wondered what has happened to patriotism in our country. I grew up in a small community of first-and second-generation blue-collar coal miners, steel workers and farmers.

We had no gigantic fireworks displays, but rather a small community parade with WWI and WWII veterans, a VFW Color Guard, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, volunteer fire companies and their highly polished engines.

Every home displayed an American flag and the town light poles were decorated with bunting and American flags. Families and neighbors had picnics and we listened to the veterans tell war stories, feasted on hot dogs, hamburgers and watermelon.

When the summer sun settled behind the horizon we’d light sparklers and chase lightning bugs. Many of us defended our country. And many died.

On this day in neighborhoods all over Charleston you have to look closely to find an American flag, much less any other display of patriotism. Folks will jam Brittlebank Park and Patriots Point to watch extraordinary fireworks displays and celebrate the birth of this nation.

How many will reflect on the meaning of the event and perhaps proudly display an American flag on their home on a permanent basis? We have allowed our government and legislators to remove patriotism from our schools, and we accept unworthy and distasteful renditions of our national anthem without complaint.

“Why?” I ask. Freedom, you say. In fact few people even make an effort to sing the anthem when played or properly honor the colors when presented. We permit the destruction and dishonor of our flag by any and all and we ask no one to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Do you see Old Glory on your street?

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Where is our national sense of patriotism?

Denny McKeever Willow Lake Road

James Island

One step forward for the developers and two steps back for the citizens of Mount Pleasant.

That’s what happened when Mount Pleasant Town Council voted 5-4 on June 12 to remove the ordinance that required more than 50 acres of land in order to build a footprint larger than 70,000 square feet. This is the “big box” ordinance we’ve all been talking about.

The majority of town council members and the mayor seem to care more about economic development than our comprehensive plan and what our citizens care about. Just because certain businesses want to move into Mount Pleasant doesn’t mean that we have to bend over backwards to get them in, especially when they don’t comply with our comprehensive plan.

Just eight days after this significant ordinance was removed, the town planning commission was presented a request to change the zoning of 39.75 acres of a proposed Central Mount Pleasant development from “low density neighborhood” to “commercial.” Whoa, what’s going on here? What does this developer know that we don’t know? The planning commission voted to allow just less than nine acres as commercial, instead of the 39.75 which was requested.

In January, 73 new business licenses were reported and 66 new construction permits were let. Add to that the Gregg Tract, Coleman Boulevard revitalization, Central Mount Pleasant, Waterfront Gateway District and Oyster Point development projects and various scattered apartment projects. We’re “open for business,” not “up for sale.”

Are we going to start seeing this all over our town? Is anyone connecting the dots? Is anyone looking at the whole picture of our town to make sure that we’re keeping as much character as possible? Do we really need all of this development? Our citizens want Mount Pleasant to look like “some place,” not just “any place.”

We all want our town to be prosperous, but could we please remove the steroids and proceed in a thoughtful, responsible way?

Pat Sullivan Plantation Court

Mount Pleasant

A recent letter writer disparaged as imbecilic the idea of replacing the Highway 41 drawbridge over the Wando River with another drawbridge. I have a very different opinion on the value of a drawbridge. It will protect the Francis Marion National Forest. It may not be widely known, but we do not own all of the land within the proclamation boundary of the Francis Marion. Significant areas within the forest are in private ownership.

One deterrent to suburban sprawl development of these private parcels is the minor inconvenience of the drawbridge. Fixed spans facilitate development — that is the no-brainer here. Look what has happened to Johns Island since two fixed-span bridges were built over the Stono River.

Suburban sprawl development already threatens the Francis Marion National Forest, an internationally renowned treasure chest of plants, animals and other species, and a tiny remnant of the diverse, beautiful and fire-dependent, longleaf pine ecosystem. We should do all in our power to protect this ecosystem, and a drawbridge is a small investment that will help do so.

Hurricane evacuations are no longer an emergency. With modern modeling we know days in advance if a local landfall is likely, leaving plenty of time to implement well-planned evacuations. Plus, though serious, major hurricanes are rare events.

It is insane to risk the destruction of an ecosystem based on a problem that can be solved with good planning and sensible risk management. Evacuations are, however, a commonly used scare tactic promoted by developers longing for new roads and big bridges.

Jean Everett, Ph.D Murphy’s Court

Charleston

I’ve walked the West Ashley Greenway for years. Plans to pave the trail will destroy the character and peacefulness, a feeling you’re out of the hustle and bustle of the city and seeing nature at its best.

I wonder if those who plan these changes to the greenway ever get out from behind their desks and walk, ride a bike or jog along the trail.

I wonder if they notice the increase in temperature when they approach a paved area near a street, especially when it’s 95 degrees.

I hate to see things that are good for so many people disappear because a few people think how great it would be if that trail was paved, when they have never done more than drive across it.

What a shame that by “improving” the trail it really makes it worse for all of us.

Gene Hodges Wappoo Road Charleston

On June 23 my neighbors for the last 14 years, Ben and Dee Dee Mack and their children, officially opened an unnamed neighborhood/community park on the corner of Montague Avenue and Watkins Road in North Charleston.

I want to thank Mr. Mack, and his family for the wonderful gift to the neighborhood.

Their decision to give their personal property in the form of a park to the neighborhood, equipped with a full basketball court, and with future plans to add a sand- box, swings, tables and chairs, demonstrates the depth of this family’s blessings and their willingness to share with others for nothing in return, except to take care of this wonderful park.

We see, read and hear terrible things about North Charleston. I was touched to see the Mack family open the park to the neighborhood.

There were no media, no paparazzi, no pomp and circumstance, just an enormous gift to a small neighborhood full of children.

I am appealing to everyone in our neighborhood to take care of this wonderful gift.

Margaret L. Snyder Watkins Road

North Charleston

Every time I have successfully crossed the Ashley River bridge, highways 61 and 17 and I am finally turning onto the Greenway of West Ashley I take a deep breath and start relaxing. Not only am I finally out of the danger zone, but now I am able to enjoy one of the last “unspoiled” corners of South Carolina, as a recent commercial for the Pig puts it.

This “unspoiled” corner has wonderful old oaks that shade the greenway and that are now in danger of being suffocated and lost to future generations.

This unspoiled corner also allows one to escape from the burning heat that is radiated back from the blacktop that is covering so much of our environment these days.

I feel relief when I am able to leave the blacktop behind and be surrounded by just nature and people who enjoy using nature “as is” just as much as I do. Please preserve our inheritance for future generations as “unspoiled” as possible. Please keep the greenway green.

Martina Mueller Turner Street

Charleston

May “these” United States rest in peace. Our country, as our founding fathers intended it to be, is no more.

Perhaps now people will finally realize what the South was really fighting for 150 years ago.

God bless. Is it still legal to say that? Deo Vindice!

Danny Dantzler E. Main Street

Harleyville