Gene Edward Veith is right on with "Victims as heroes" (Nov. 29). We have heard so much about Jessica Lynch, who really did not do anything all that heroic. The real hero of that day when Ms. Lynch was captured was a determined young man from Kansas named Patrick Miller, who was also captured and was awarded the Silver Star for his exploits defending his fellow soldiers. This strong-willed soldier (the best kind) is another unsung hero. - Caleb Reid, 16, Topeka, Kan.
If anyone had labeled me a hero when I jumped from a B-17 to become a prisoner of the Nazis I would have laughed and, believe me, I could have used a good laugh about then. I am sure the same could be said of the 600 men and boys who died or were captured that day over Germany when 60 of our bombers went down, mostly because of Luftwaffe fighter planes. Capture by the enemy does not make a hero; today's heroes are manufactured by the talking heads on television news programs. - Roy Butler, Hobbs, N.M.
We have taken a further step from toughness, strength, and aggression toward incompetence, passivity, and sentimentality, and honor "victims" who neither die for their country nor cause the enemy to die for their country. Unlike a true hero like York, who turned down money for his heroics, Ms. Lynch readily accepted more than a million dollars for the TV drama and book about her nonheroics. If we win the war in Iraq, it will be due to the real heroics of courageous men like Captain Hornbuckle and his 80 men. - Jack Stone, Dallas, Texas
Look at ourselves
Before we point our fingers at the judges in Massachusetts, maybe we should look around at the couples in our own churches ("Massachusetts mangles marriage," Nov. 29). How many marriages represent God's design of one man and one woman, for life; have the husband as the breadwinner and head; have the goal of raising godly offspring? If we who are called by God's name have felt free to redefine marriage, why should we be surprised when people who do not fear the Lord take the liberty to come up with their own definition? - Denise Busenitz, Whitewater, Kan.
We should have been working to repeal no-fault divorce laws and penalizing in some manner nonmarital cohabitation for many years now. In addition, we should be disciplining (and excommunicating) those in our own churches who violate this "sacred institution." - Lynn Marshall, Raytown, Mo.
I enjoyed your analysis of Al Franken, Michael Moore, and Molly Ivins ("They're not kidding," Nov. 22). While I am glad that you refrained from name-calling and focused on what these authors have written, I think that Ms. Ivins often makes some good points about the injustices and incongruities of American life. Conservatives should read people like Mr. Moore, Ms. Ivins, and Anna Quindlen to understand how liberals think. It helps me, as a conservative, keep an open mind. - Matthew Loftus, 16, Bel Air, Md.
I applaud Andree Seu's exceptional column, "It's not you, it's me, OK?" (Nov. 22), and the illustration that went with it. New laws, organizations, marches, sit-ins, and fundraisers are all good, but they will never make the impact on a heart involved in a life-changing decision in the way that a look at truth will produce. - Genevieve M. White, Boston, Mass.
How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig is still in print, available from Summit Ministries ("Taking every thought captive," Nov. 29, p. 28). Bartholomew County is in Indiana, not Ohio (Quick Takes, Nov. 15, p. 11).
Out to pasture
We will have lost if we do not act against the Democratic filibuster ("Losing in overtime," Nov. 29). We must not allow these few to control our country; we must put them out to pasture in the next election. - John Schlesner, Westby, Wis.
Some movies do remind us of current events, as you stated about Master and Commander and its premise that "victory is essential, but it will come only with suffering." Likewise, the trailer for the last of the Lord of the Rings trilogy reminds us that "there can be no triumph without loss, no victory without suffering, no freedom without sacrifice." - Allen Round, Porterville, Calif.
Better than usual
I disagree with Andrew Coffin regarding the Matrix films ("Matrix devolutions," Nov. 15). They turned out much better as far as teaching character and showing at least hints of grace and unnatural servanthood and sacrifice-than the usual postmodern, all-is-relative, we-hate-heroes fare my generation has had to swallow for 25 years. Like Minority Report, this movie emphasizes a concept that is anathema in postmodern thinking: Humans are above other creatures because we have the gifts of reason and free will, along with the responsibility for the consequences of how we use them. - Rachel Tripp, Camden, N.J.
If we are not willing as a society to use righteous aggression to protect ourselves by confronting and fighting evil, then we will be overrun by those who will use unrighteous aggression to destroy us. - Almeda Terry, Big Sandy, Mont.
In North Korea, during the sub-zero freezing winter months of November and December 1950, 20,000 Americans were trapped by 120,000 Chinese Communist Forces. It was one of the bloodiest battles ever fought by the United States. We had to bury some of our own men in a mass grave at Koto-ri. Their bodies were frozen stiff like chunks of ice; Marines loaded the bodies up in trucks like cord wood and tied them to bumpers and fenders of jeeps to keep them out of the hands of the enemy. In that one single battle, there were 72 Navy Crosses and 11 Medals of Honor earned. Survivors, calling ourselves the "Chosin Few," still meet every few years. When we returned home (most were reservists called up for the war), we went back to our jobs and families and got on with our lives. There were no "victims" or "heroes." We just went, and did the job we had to do. - Clyde H. Queen Sr., Citrus Heights, Calif.
We need heroes
Regarding Master and Commander ("Worth seeing," Nov. 29): Russell Crowe is a New Zealander with 1/16th Maori ancestry. Mel Gibson is American by birth but was raised in Australia. In popular culture today, Mr. Crowe (Gladiator, Proof of Life) and Mr. Gibson (Braveheart, Patriot, Ransom) seem like the sole captains of traditional masculine leadership. They are today what Clint Eastwood and Harrison Ford were to an earlier generation. My 16- and 19-year-old sons think Mr. Crowe is positively brilliant and would leave at noon today to follow him to the far side of the world. America's leading "man" Ben Affleck or England's Hugh Grant? They wouldn't follow them downtown. - Jonathan Panner, Austin, Texas