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Sacrificial scam

I am an avid reader of the Independent, and generally enjoy most articles within it. However, I have to disagree with the way that the article "Targeting paradise" (Aug. 10, cover) was represented. Pictures of crazy-eyed soldiers in tanks, targeting innocent animals running in a panic is just silly and demeaning. Yes, I am a military wife, but yes, I am also a liberal. I see both sides of the equation, and I am the last person who wants people and animals to be displaced for any reason.

However, if the military is truly in need of this land in order to train young men and women heading into what I would consider the seventh circle of hell, take it. I realize that people's lives would be disrupted and people that have been there for years would be displaced, but I'm sorry to say that sacrifices must be made. The government's not going to steal the land; it's going to compensate for it.

If my husband is killed on his second tour in Iraq because he received inadequate training, what kind of compensation do I get? How can you put value on life? The article says, "History is patriotic." Well, so is wanting every single one of our soldiers to come home. What amazes me is that soldiers and their families sacrifice every single day for America, but when it's all said and done, nobody ever wants to sacrifice anything for them.

Renae Thacker

Colorado Springs

Take a little trip

Thank you for your timely article about southeastern Colorado and the Army's interest in acquiring more lands in this area. I loved your title, "Targeting paradise," because to most Coloradans, "paradise" is probably not one of the words they would use to describe the country east of the Interstate 25 corridor. Coloradans, especially newly arrived ones, tend to look west, not east. Mountains, ski areas, trendy towns and upscale restaurants call us, not the flatlands and prairies to the east.

One of the first steps we can take to protect these wonderful lands is to get to know them, as your writer did so well. It takes less time to drive to La Junta than it does to Breckenridge. So, this fall, say, in October when it's cool and the Arkansas River cottonwoods are at their glorious golden best and the farmers' markets are busting with late summer produce why not take a drive to La Junta and spend a weekend exploring the area?

In La Junta, stop at the Forest Service office on the east edge of town and buy a map of the Comanche National Grassland. Walk in a valley along the Purgatoire River and you may see wild turkey, deer, bobcats, eagles and all kinds of small game and birds. Crawl up in the rocks, and you'll find pictographs and cave dwellings used by ancient peoples. To those of us who have taken the time to hike, bike and explore these areas, these lands really are a paradise.

Drive south to the tiny town of Kim, and then west to Trinidad, and you'll get a sense of the vast beauty of the area. You're in one of the last free, wild places in Colorado. You're where the last of the Cheyennes, Arapahoes and Kiowas lived free before being caged on reservations. You're where some of the last buffalo were found. You're in country that modern ranchers love and protect and are fighting to keep as grassland forever. It is a land as valuable as a mountain or a wild river valley, and worth knowing and preserving.

Rod Podszus

Colorado Springs

On the Road again

Thanks for producing such a good, well-researched story on Pion Canyon. I hope your readers get a chance to see the Picket Wire Canyon country for themselves. There are some spectacular red rock canyons and a side canyon where a hermit named Martin Bowden lived all alone from 1911 to 1958, painting his murals on the canyon walls. His artwork is still visible and actually more beautiful than ever in its current weathered condition.

To the best of my knowledge, I am the only person who has ever hiked the entire length of the Purgatory River. I began at the confluence, where William Bent had his home. I hiked 150 miles upstream to the headwaters in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. It amazed me, all of the beauty and history along that little river. There are petroglyphs literally everywhere, including some that are different from any place else in America. They are referred to as "music glyphs" and seem to be an abstract ideogrammatic language system.

Here's a little-known tidbit about the canyons: Back in the '50s, there was an archeology professor at Trinidad State Junior College named Hal Chase, who did some work at a place along the Purgatory River called Island Mesa. Hal was the real-life basis for Jack Kerouac's character Chad King, and he was the one that introduced Kerouac to Neal Cassady, who becomes Dean Moriarty in the novel On the Road.

Another source of obscure information about the canyons is from the writings of people who lived at Drop City, the hippie commune that was located on the banks of the Purgatory River between Trinidad and Hoehne during the '60s. There are a number of fascinating accounts of that time and place on the Internet.

It would be such a shame to lose all of this to an Army firing range. Thanks again for doing the article, and please pass my compliments along to the artist who created the fabulous cover design, as well.

Doug Holdread

Trinidad

Evil Indy

When I saw last week's cover story, I expected the Independent to bemoan the loss of history if Fort Carson expands, and you did not disappoint: You even included photos of a long-abandoned church and ranch house that will no doubt be razed if the expansion occurs.

I found this amusing, given that you not only purchased a 92-year-old church building for your own offices, but also ran a feature at the time bragging about the extensive renovations so that the Independent could be "born again" in a "downtown landmark": csindy.com/csindy/2003-07-10/news.html.

I can just imagine the outrage we'd be hearing from you if, say, Wal-Mart took over a downtown landmark, much less a few crumbling old shacks no one cared about before the mean ol' military showed up.

I guess some things are evil only when the other guys are doing it.

Greg Hartman

Colorado Springs

"Wrong pew'

Having arrived home recently, I decided to take a nice, leisurely stroll downtown for my daily Chipotle and Indy reading. It was then that I noticed an abundance of posters with a dog that moos. Being out of the C. Springs loop, I assumed it to be some sort of public, post-modern art exhibit. "Ah! In our world of globalization, ideological strife, economic disparity and the like, even dogs have become confused as to their place, their purpose and even their natural vocalizations!"

But, alas, I was wrong. When my mother informed me as to its true meaning, I was proud of our little town, showing what seemed to be big progress in the way of tolerance education (especially in a public space!). As I thought more and more about it, however, I began to think it a campaign gone all wrong.

"Right church, wrong pew," as my high school lacrosse coach used to say. I find a mooing dog as a representation of gays to be insulting and demeaning, not to myself or other straight people, but to gays. This is not to say that I disagree with the "Born Different" argument. My cousin is gay, and has been since the day he was born. (We have home movies to prove it.) I doubt he or any of my other gay friends would find solidarity with a dog that does something wholly un-doglike, like moo. Does a mooing dog not connote that gays are born not just differently, but strangely, and that they are either very confused or unnatural aberrations?

Thus I suggest a revamp. Keep the dog and the Born Different slogan, just have the dog barking, holding a mojito, wearing designer shoes with a look of contentment.

Benjamin Kultgen

Colorado Springs

What to rebut?

Once again a reader is dissatisfied with the Indy. This time it's a so-called liberal, one Daniel Gilbert ("So much smarter," Aug 10, Letters).

Daniel is annoyed that the Indy does not maintain reality and objectivity; that a bunch of smug liberals get off with their own self-righteousness; that the newspaper's success is because people love reading things that approve of their opinions.

Well, Daniel my brother, I'd like to rebut you, but I don't know what to rebut. Your letter is a generality. You did not give us one example of what you complained about. It's like telling someone they made a mistake but won't tell them what the mistake is.

Daniel then advised the Indy to provide a neutral, straightforward newspaper rather than being like the Gazette. Well, I wonder if Daniel knows what the mission of the Indy is. I always thought, among other things, the primary purpose of the Indy is to provide another voice for the region, and that it it does that in a straightforward manner. I won't speak for the Indy, but I don't think there is a "neutral" newspaper anywhere.

How can a newspaper be neutral when the humans who produce it aren't? Is anyone totally neutral or totally unbiased? Not to my way of thinking, nor should they be; it wouldn't be human.

I'm satisfied that the Indy is straightforward. The Pikes Peak region would be less than it is without it; so would the Gazette. I hope the next time Daniel or anyone criticizes the Indy, they put some meat on their bone of contention. Give some examples, some facts. It's easy to opine and to use such provocative words as "masturbate" and "mmm hmmm" but it doesn't ask the reader to think, and thinking is what it's all about.

Phil Kenny

Colorado Springs

Psycho kitty,

qu'est que c'est?

"Catastrophe" asked "Advice Goddess" Amy Alkon if his girlfriend of eight months would surrender her beloved feline in order to prolong their relationship ("Dirty kitty things," Aug. 10). Hiss! "Catastrophe" is the "filthy animal." He should begin his lengthy search for a bald girlfriend (no hair or dander to shed) who is so desperate for a relationship that she would tolerate Catastrophe's extreme hostility toward cats.

Cindy Powell

Colorado Springs

Training wheels

Our presence in Iraq is not based on some self-delusional sense of "noblesse oblige" that's just the political rhetoric. The truth of the situation is that it's a strategy of proactive self-defense. Turning tail and running will only exacerbate the situation. Yes, they are not ready for a representative government yet. But if we leave, what do you think will happen? Another despot will rise to fill the void of power, and the eventual end result is that we will then have two Islamist nations hell-bent on our destruction.

Realistically, a provisional U.S.- or U.N.-led government needs to be installed, in order to give Iraqis who want self-government the opportunity to observe and apprentice in its practices consider it "training wheels for democracy." Installing a representative government for those accustomed to years of monarchistic rule and then "walking away and hoping for the best" is setting the stage for failure: that's how Adolf Hitler and Nazi regime rose to power on the shoulders of the crumbling Weimar Republic.

If we leave now, it will not solve this problem any more than our practicing isolationism prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor kept us out of World War II. And responding, "It's not our problem,' is equivalent to ignoring a cancer diagnosis because it's in its early stages. Ignoring it only defers the problem until it's too late to do anything about it until, ultimately, it kills you.

Bob Szekely

Colorado Springs

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