More Than Money -- Sacagawea, a true American hero, may lose her place on our money. In the next couple of weeks, Congress will vote on H.R. 3916, which would remove Sacagawea's image from the dollar coin. As we celebrate the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark's historic journey west (1804-1806) we should be thankful that we have the image of Sacagawea on our currency instead of trying to remove it. Sacagawea's brave and heroic efforts during the journey are a treasured part of Washington state's and America's history.
Removing Sacagawea would also be a step backwards in achieving a more inclusive society. Sacagawea is the only woman and minority featured on our currency currently in wide circulation. Please call Rep. George Nethercutt at (509) 529-9358 or (202) 225-2006 and tell him you want to continue to honor Sacagawea and the Lewis & amp; Clark expedition and to vote NO on H.R. 3916. Those who own businesses can also show support by giving out the Sacagawea coins as change to their customers. Let's save this true American hero.
Lessons from Libby -- My name is Eva Thomson, not Thompson, as it was misspelled in the recent article that Jane Fritz interviewed others and me for ("Survival and Revival in Libby," 7/8/04). Fritz used a tape recorder, but unfortunately she didn't use it as backup for her story. We told about everything and everyone it entailed to put up the crosses. It took several men to set up the grid; LeRoy Billadeau headed that effort and then a large crew of laborers put the crosses in. The ground is notoriously hard there, so men had to take steel bars and put a hole in the ground so that the crosses could be put in the rest of the way. Not a child was present. There is hard feeling all over here because of the misinformation.
Also, the picture of the small kids, my sister's grandkids, wasn't even taken this year and definitely not during the work period. Also, I told her not to mention me if she didn't include the fact that my whole family, not Gayla's , was decimated by asbestos. My husband died of it, I have it and I have two sons and they both have it, one severely. My parents died of it also, so my whole family is wiped out. She conveniently forgot that.
I don't begrudge the Libby story. It has to be told over and over because it is about the destruction of a whole community, not just a few people, but if she is going to tell the story, tell it correct or don't write it. Please talk to her about truthfulness. I am Gayla Benefield's sister and my deceased husband's name is Dale, not Don. Please acknowledge this letter.
To Homeless: Go West -- In the discussions of the homeless issue, ("Squatter's Rights," 7/8/04, and "Homeless Mess," 7/15/04), some points have not been mentioned. It is assumed that these people have no money. They don't have a lot of money, but I'll bet many receive monthly checks from the government for social security disability or supplement. Why not charge them $5 per day to camp in a defined area?
Second point: Spokane has a winter, Seattle and Portland don't. These people don't want to camp out free here during the winter, they want to enjoy the good weather and then move on. That means that a program offering a camping possibility could not be run efficiently here in Spokane: It would be idle for half the year. My conclusion is that Spokane should discourage the homeless from camping here and encourage them to camp on the moderate coast. However, Spokane still has a financial obligation to participate in the cost of these programs in Seattle and Portland. This can be accomplished either through federal tax money going to support these programs, or through local church money going to national churches, or through both approaches.
Hard Lessons -- I have to comment about the articles, "Squatter's Rights" (7/8/04) and "Homeless Mess" (7/15/04). The whole thing is driving me crazy. We have all these homeless people in Spokane who will camp for 10 days in protest, go to meetings about being homeless, stand up to government officials like they can just magically fix their problem -- and to top it all off, they expect us hard-working people to come up with a solution for their problem with our money.
Here's my solution: get a job, go to school, do something with your life. Obviously these people have enough energy to do everything else, why can't they work harder on making their lives better?
I am a very hard-working mother of three. We are not a well-off family. My husband and I have both been on the verge of being homeless. You know what we did? We got off our butts and did something about it. I for one do not feel sorry for people who blame all their problems on other people. If you are homeless, then take my advice: Stop drinking, drugging -- whatever your habit is -- take that energy you use and apply yourself to your community. No one I know gets anything without having to give back. You have to actually do something to get what you want out of life. To all the politicians: You have worked very hard to be where you are and that is why you make the decisions for our community. Thank you.
Bear Witness -- Recent media coverage of homelessness and the camping ordinance issue has left me feeling dissatisfied and disheartened. Although I'm a great supporter of adequate social services, I'm also aware that many of these services are temporary measures aimed at lessening the indignities of an already unjust system.
Valuable though it may be to open up the discussion about services for the homeless to public debate, I can't help but fear that we have lost sight of the greater context in which the poor live out their tragic lives. After two years working as a full-time employee at a local homeless shelter, I am convinced that if I were to become homeless, I would most likely end up among those who camp outdoors, where privacy, quiet, and a degree of independence would make my despair more bearable. I am also convinced that I would find the "upward" mobility available to me -- from a life on the streets to a life of struggling to pay the bills on poverty-level wages -- little more palatable than homelessness itself. Yes, Spokane has a lot of poverty. We have poverty because we have too many low-wage jobs, because our healthcare system is inadequate, because a good education is still more readily available to those of middle and upper class backgrounds. We have poverty because gender and racial inequalities are enmeshed in the fabric of economic life in this country -- in Spokane; single mothers are disproportionately poor, as are those of non-white ethnicity. (Homeless shelters in Spokane are our one true locus of racial diversity.)
We can choose to throw up our hands and say that such a state of affairs is inevitable and unchangeable -- the poor, after all, will always be with us, and the funds for services, after all, will always be lacking. But we can also choose to see the problem for what it really is: a grave injustice and a national moral outrage.