P.S. The guy who wrote the letter before Meat's complaining about the word "Yiddish" and Dr. Laura Schlessinger stated that Dr. Laura isn't very Jewish because only her father was a Jew. Dr. Laura is Jewish. She converted to Judaism, she believes in it, she follows it, and she just got re-married to her husband in a Jewish ceremony so everything would be legit and okey dokey. And don't think I'm a fanatical Dr. Laura fan; I personally can't stand the bitch.


The last event I attended that got coverage in a newspaper was World War II. That's why I was excited to see the Hey, You! about the young Republican city councilman in the town beholden to a major amusement park ("Whippersnapper!" Sept. 3). I was at the city council meeting referred to in the article, and, frankly, it doesn't convey the true nature of the way we were treated by the council in general or by this councilman specifically.

While we spoke to the council about the deafening noise generated by the new ride, the council members seemed amused by the "complaining old folks." During a recess, "Sleazy" (that's what we call the councilman) came up to us and said he doesn't know what we're "whining" about, as he lives out by the local country club and he doesn't hear any noise. We attempted to explain to Sleazy that he lives a good five miles from the amusement park while we live right across the street. That's when he made the "turn off your hearing aids" comment.

I asked Sleazy just who he thought he was to speak to us that way. He said, "I'm an elected councilman in this city." One of the wives in our group said that she didn't vote for him and certainly would do what she could to see he's not elected again, to which Sleazy replied, "I'm not running again until the year 2000; by that time, I'm guessing most of you won't be around."

Rest assured, we never spoke to anyone with any disrespect, so for this fellow to be so rude and nasty was quite shocking, much more so than your article informed. I don't really know anything about Sleazy's business deals with the amusement park or the campaign contributions you wrote about. All I know is that in 69 years (70 this November), I have never felt so insulted. But I'm old, so I guess nobody really cares.

—Wesley Timmons, via e-mail PAPER CHASE

Re: Nick Schou's article "The Phantom Menace" (Cover story, July 9). As a family member of a prisoner of war, it amazes me that in articles concerning the POW/MIA issue, reporters always rely on just one side of the story: the official statement from government sources. The concern I have is that reporters never ask to see the documentation that backs up the official statement. Ask a researcher who has done research on the POW/MIA issue, and one will find many discrepancies in the official story.

I believed the government's story for years until I began collecting documents. The big question here is:If the government is telling the correct story, why aren't allthe documents released? We have to file Freedom of Information Act requests to get information on our family members. Why is it that the families are not given all the reports and documents pertaining to their loved ones? Reporters are told that I, as a family member, have been given all the information. That is just not true.

In the case of my husband, Colonel David L. Hrdlicka, I have asked to see credible evidence that he died in captivity. I have been told they have no evidence that David died. We have waited more than 34 years to find out what happened to him. I know he was alive for years after he was captured. I know the U.S. government has tracked the POWs because the documentation shows that. So why does the government rely on hearsay and someone's belief as to what happened to David? Would a reporter accept that as criteria for the determination of death of one of his or her family members?

My hope would be that reporters would do a little more investigating in the future and publish both sides of the story. Maybe they should take the time to visit with a family of a POW or MIA. We are just people trying to get the truth from a giant machine called government.

—Carol Hrdlicka, Conway Springs, Kansas Nick Schou responds: There were two basic points to my story. First, there has never been any credible evidence that American POWs were held in Southeast Asia after the war. Second, the U.S. government itself is to blame for convincing millions of Americans—especially family members of MIAs—that the missing American servicemen in question are either still alive or were killed in captivity after the war (as you suspect happened to your husband). There is no denying the shamefulness of the manner in which folks such as you have been manipulated and misled by U.S. officials. But if there's a smoking gun regarding the fate of the POWs, it is that the U.S. government has known all along that there weren't any POWs after 1973. If you still haven't gotten all the answers you want from Uncle Sam, consider this: having led you down the primrose path for a quarter of a century, the U.S. government is now terrified that MIA families will reach the inescapable conclusion that they've been used as propaganda tools in a cynical effort to isolate Vietnam, an effort that, much like the crusade to "find" the POWs, has also finally been tossed aside.
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