The gift vacation Operation R&R extends to active duty military families means much more to me this week. I just returned from a trip to France where I visited the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer near Omaha Beach.

Dedicated in July 1956, the cemetery is the resting place for 9,387 American servicemen and women who gave their lives on D-Day or shortly thereafter. It is impossible to look out over the headstones, both Latin crosses and Stars of David, without feeling love and admiration for those young people who gave so much for all of us.

I am not ashamed to admit that as I stood silent and said a prayer tears came to my eyes thinking about what life would have been for these fallen warriors.

The volunteers, merchants and homeowners who contribute to Operation R&R are doing a good and well-deserved thing for this generation of servicemen and servicewomen who have been deployed in the past 12 months, are married and still on active duty.

The local chapter of Operation R&R can be supported by going to www.charlestonoperationrandr.org.

Francis X. Archibald

Franke Drive

Mount Pleasant

I should not have to breathe smoke and you should not have to stop smoking inside.

The answer to this problem is simple. Our local officials, who stipulate so many other requirements for business operations, should simply require these establishments to enclose and separate the smoking areas (glass or walls) and have a separate ventilation system at their expense, not at the expense of non-smokers’ health.

Employees of these establishments could choose which section they want to work in, and employers would have to honor their wishes. For business owners who worry and whine about lost revenue or being forced out of business, I’d hate to know my business success hinged on the right to smoke.

Just look around locally and in other states at how businesses are still succeeding after smoking bans were passed. These requirements should also be mandatory at any other business or public building where smoking is allowed. Let the burden of responsibility be on the establishments, not the customers and employees.

John Jackson

Atkins Landing Road

Moncks Corner

Means testing for Social Security retirement and Medicare “benefits”? That is the current proposal from Mitt Romney, but not for the current recipients, of course, because that would likely alienate constituents. Shame on this platform.

Given a choice, most would opt out of mandated payments into the Social Security program and instead save and invest privately.

The Obama camp does not seem to have a clue; and the Romney camp, well, does not have a clue either about the struggles of those they like to refer to as “middle class.” Phooey. The choices this election make one yearn for more.

Amy C. Korngiebel

W. 7th North Street

Summerville

The proposed cruise terminal relocation at the edge of Laurens Street is too close to our homes.

The plan relocates the terminal to the building on the property that is the closest to a residential area. Its negative impacts on local residents, including health issues, would be most magnified.

The reasonable thing is to put the terminal in the middle of the Union Pier property where toxic diesel effects and noise will be less severe for people who live next to it.

The SPA already has a substantial building (known as Bldg. 318) which stands in the middle of the Union Pier property. It could become a new passenger terminal.

Furthermore, if the proposed terminal were pushed toward the center of the property, then the park-like area proposed for the south end could be duplicated on the north end. This would provide a buffer for neighborhoods on the north end, which are adjacent to the proposed site. These neighborhoods will need the green space once development on the Ansonborough Field is completed.

The proposed terminal is a change of Union Pier’s intended use. It would bring more traffic congestion, air pollution, noise and negative impact to adjacent neighborhoods than would leaving it as a roll-on/roll-off cargo terminal.

The state could simultaneously better protect the health of its local residents and develop this new tourist business if the SPA is willing to make some design changes.

Betty Lee

Wharfside Street

Charleston

If every county in America provided a mobile service to register voters and provide photo IDs on the spot, there would still be those who oppose mandatory voter ID laws. Why?

Because the issue is not really voter ID cards but voter fraud. There are examples in recent elections of counties where the number of registered Democrats exceeded the population.

That is the foundation for voter fraud. If strict voter ID laws were in place nationwide, one person voting multiple times would be virtually eliminated. Illegal alien votes would be eliminated.

Felons voting and voting from the grave would be a thing of the past.

We should stop the practice of sending officials to Third World countries to observe elections and clean up our own act first.

Wayne Tallent

New England Drive

North Charleston

First, there is the hullabaloo over operating trains through certain parts of the North Charleston area.

Now there is an “electronic sign” on North Rhett Avenue, next to Braddock Avenue which forbids certain auto traffic through a “specific neighborhood” of Park Circle.

What’s next?

A no-fly zone?

Henry Mizell

France Avenue

North Charleston