An emotional trip for veterans

The weekend of May 18, there were several veterans from the Augusta area who were aboard the Freedom Honor Flight out of La Crosse.

There is no way to convey the care and effort volunteers expend to make this event possible. Their organizational skills were impeccable in this awesome task.

The morning started with a hearty breakfast. The shuttle was there to take vets, families and friends to the hangar.

Arrival at the hangar was 5:30 a.m. Excitement filled the air with music, the buzz of everyone talking and the anticipation of takeoff.

The plane lifted, and people and flags waved as we sent them off into the “wild blue yonder.” The flight was 1 hour, 40 minutes. They observed the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery. They were amidst 440,000 graves on this hallowed ground. It was a quiet place for reflection.

They were escorted by police to war memorials — Word War II, Korea, Vietnam and 9/11 — and the Pentagon. The day passed quickly. Little did they know what awaited them at the hangar.

Meanwhile, volunteers were preparing snacks, assisting people out of the rain with umbrellas and offering rides in golf carts. Again, the volunteers were inspiring.

The plane touched down on its return. The door opened and a hangar full of people greeted them with thunderous applause. The vets passed through a flag display. The band played them songs for each branch of the service, and fireworks exploded and filled the sky.

The vets appeared. They were tired, weary and drained. However, they were still smiling and a sense of contentment filled the air.

It was emotional and moving. Their first time home from war was without any fanfare or thanks. This was the welcome home they never received. Thank you.

Welcome home, soldiers.

Mary Waugh


Climate change getting attention it deserves

The reality of climate change is now getting attention long overdue.

Xcel Energy is “transitioning to carbon-free electricity” and, just as predicted by Citizens’ Climate Lobby, the price of electricity for most consumers will be decreasing or at least “stable.” Xcel is pleased with its shift to providing fuel-free energy.

Meanwhile, my brother who lives in Florida informs me that Florida Power and Light Co. has started construction on 10 solar power plants with over 30 million solar panels installed by 2030. Massive batteries will stockpile power for use during peak hours.

Meanwhile, the federal government is creating a committee to oppose the science of climate change. The race is on. The reality of the climate crisis is more apparent each day with the drums of doom louder and louder. I hope that the scaling up by power companies moving to alternative energies can mitigate some of the worst effects predicted.

For those who are standing by hoping someone else will take care of it, we need your help. You can write Rep. Ron Kind or Sens. Ron Johnson or Tammy Baldwin and urge passage of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which places a fee on carbon pollution with a dividend returned to households.

Just as the power companies are responding, we need to scale-up the political response.

Peter Whitis

Eau Claire

Reimagining the Closs family incident

When Mr. Closs knew someone was coming up the driveway at night, uninvited he could have done the following:

• No lights on, get the semi-automatic deer rifle and load it up with the clip and a shell in the chamber.

• Sit in the dark, ready for what may happen next. Not in front of the door but off to the side.

• When the first bullet is fired by the intruder, you know this person is trouble. You are safe yet and ready.

• When the second shot is fired to break open the door, wait until the intruder is visible and inside your home.

• Do whatever is necessary to protect your family.

Second line of defense: Do as the mother did but have protection:

• Have a 9mm hand gun with a clip.

• Put the clip in and load the chamber as trained.

• Go into the bathroom and lock the door, and pull out the drawer as she did to stop an easy way in.

• When the door is being broken, fire through the door, high, low, left and right, saving shells as a backup.

• Use cellphone to call the sheriff to clear the house before coming out of the bathtub and/or bathroom.

This is the very reason guns change a sitting duck into a firing family protector. Guns do not have to be loaded in the house, but a clip and one action to the chamber makes them ready defense weapons. It is sad our world has come to this in order to be safe in our own home. Guns used properly save more lives than misused guns do harm. That is what I believe.

Daniel Watton

Chippewa Falls

City center gets extra attention

I was reading the paper on May 24 and saw the article about two bridges getting lights.

I know it is pretty to look at, but as I drive on some streets in Eau Claire I feel maybe (we should) address some of those issues first.

Seems like everything is going to the downtown area and the rest of the city suffers. There is more to Eau Claire than downtown.

Michele Opelt