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Shed some tears for the real heroes

As I read the article about sports injuries of professional football players, I shed more than one tear. The tears weren't for the young athlete, who was most likely a high school hero. They weren't for the collegiate player, who most likely got a free education through his athletic scholarship. They weren't for the professional football player, who opted to play the sport and who was, by most standards, overpaid for playing a "game." My tears were not for Joe D., Harry Jacobs or the like who should have known that they could do real damage to themselves by repeatedly running into a brick wall and who could have opted out of their career paths at any time.

My tears were for those who had no choices. Not the ones drafted by a professional football team, but the ones drafted by Uncle Sam. Not the walk-ons seeking personal gain, but the walk-ins who chose to enlist out of patriotism or a sense of duty. Not for an elderly gentleman who is suffering the ravages of old age, but for the young man who is battle scarred for the rest of his life. Not for the man who blames his employer for his personal decisions, but for the veteran who suffers in silence with no recourse. And not for the woman who claims loss of consortium, but for the young wife and mother trying to hold her family together in the absence of her husband.

Yes, that article was a real tear-jerker.

Karen Grotke

Eden

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Chorus needs to move beyond Rao dispute

As a former member of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus (nearly 20 years), I have found the recent articles and letters printed in The News regarding former music director Doreen Rao distressing and largely divisive.

The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus board, which has been elected by members of the chorus and is primarily comprised of singers from the chorus, has clearly stated that the reasons for electing not to renew Rao's contract are confidential -- and they are confidential to protect the chorus and Rao.

Now is the time to move on. The words of an old graduation song come to mind. "It's time for moving on, my friends, as we search for new tomorrows."

The majority of the chorus is in rehearsal mode, the board is ready to move on and for the sake of the choral art, it's time to do just that. Move on.

Nancy Seel

West Seneca

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Bold artists are often controversial figures

I join the chorus of not only this city but of the larger, international musical community in saying that I, too, am shocked and saddened at the termination of Doreen Rao as music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus. Rao is no less than a giant in the field of choral music and education. She is a superb musician of deeply held conviction who embraces the highest standards for herself and her ensembles. Most impressively, she engages both music and musicians with a tireless enthusiasm. Her removal is a serious blow to a city that can scarcely afford to squander great artistic vision.

Bold artists are often controversial figures; it is hardly surprising that she would have had detractors from within the organization she led. That being said, the board's tight-lippedness regarding its reasons for Rao's termination speaks volumes of the inner workings of closed institutions. Were there definable artistic differences or improprieties of any kind on Rao's part, such information would have been made public in support of the board's decision. Absent an explanation, we are left to speculate that the grounds for her termination lack substance, and instead are politically motivated.

As for the board's stated dedication to "moving forward" in continued musical excellence, I fear it has severely compromised this intention through its silence. Any institution that refuses to act with transparency concerning personnel matters seriously undermines its ability to recruit and retain top-level talent.

Fear not -- if the board will not talk, musicians will. As a result, a legion of highly qualified prospective music directors will rightly look the other way upon seeing the job posting for music director. This is most regrettable.

Tony Arnold

Soprano, Associate Professor of Music, University at Buffalo

Tonawanda

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Citizens United means we get the best-financed candidates

George Will is a brilliant conservative mind. A wordsmith rivaled by few, if any. His views on campaign finance, however, are beyond myopic. Every few months, The News will publish a column in which Will smugly defends the Citizens United decision as a great victory for champions of the First Amendment. Opponents of the decision, Will asserts, are complaining about political contributions that are the equivalent of the amount spent by Americans each year on Easter candy.

A more insightful review of Citizens United was given recently by Steven Van Zandt in a radio interview. You know, Silvio -- Tony Soprano's right-hand man. Van Zandt rightly argues that the Citizens United decision, and its predecessor Buckley v. Valeo, have made one thing certain: If you have tons of money, then you have a voice in politics. If you don't have money, you're basically silent.

Overturn Citizens United. Until then, nobody can or should complain about the fact that we continue to elect the most well-financed candidates, instead of the best ones.

Steve Spillman

Buffalo

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Egg business helps youngsters develop sense of responsibility

We happen to be fortunate enough to have eggs delivered to our house in West Falls every two weeks, courtesy of the most charming brother-and-sister team you have ever met.

It's my opinion that all children should be involved in such an endeavor, or one similar. The days of paper routes, lawn mowing, sidewalk shoveling and egg selling have been replaced by an environment of enabling and limited life lessons. Certainly this is not the case for all kids. In fact, I know many who work hard to earn their own money and support their own recreational interests, thanks to the money they earn. However, not enough of them do.

I am struck by my two little friends and the advantages they are gaining by managing the responsibility of their egg business. They are introduced to economics 101, including the cost of sales (chickens, feed, transportation, etc.), customer service, communication skills, work ethic and so much more.

At ages 11 and 8, they already have learned so much about the effort and discipline it takes to earn something, and because of it they are wise beyond their years. I wish everyone had a chance to meet these incredible kids and the father who has given them such an incredible gift. It makes me wish there were more kids out there selling eggs!

Richard Steele

West Falls