Letters to the editor: Gold Star mothers, race for Congress, GOP war on women
Letters to the editor (August 30, 2012)
Gold Star Mother's Day will be observed on Sunday, Sept. 30. According to VFW magazine:
Specially recognizing the families, especially mothers, of Americans killed in war dates officially back to World War I. When a family had a member killed in France or elsewhere in 1917-18, a gold star replaced the blue star on a service flag flown in the front window of the home.
Extending that symbolism, Congress -- through Senate Joint Resolution 115, on June 23, 1936 (amended in 1985), designated the last Sunday in September as Gold Star Mother's Day.
While mothers remain the focus of this noble tradition, it is important to bear in mind that fathers and siblings grieve equally and constitute the larger "Gold Star" family.
A further honor was bestowed two years after WWII, when a set of commemorative postage stamps was issued recognizing these exceptional mothers. A Gold Star lapel pin also distinguishes mothers and fathers who have lost a son or daughter while serving in wartime (a purple background signifies a battlefield death). Moreover, specialty license plates are available to Gold Star families in many states.
Sadly, few Americans today recognize these symbols of sacrifice. Still fewer are even aware that a special day of recognition exists and that it has bestowed honor for more than 75 years.
Dorr Carpenter, Petoskey
Know thy self
Our human brains can deceive us in many ways and lead us to conclusions that have little to do with reality. Cognitive biases affect the way we think. One of the most pervasive cognitive biases is called confirmation bias. We tend to accept information and events that support our beliefs and interpret them favorably.
An example of confirmation bias occurred over the price of gas. When Bush was president, the Democrats blamed the president for the high cost of gasoline and the majority of Republicans defended the president. Currently, the Republicans blame President Obama for the high gas prices and the Democrats defended the president.
Another example of cognitive bias occurs when someone does not wish to accept or believe in a claim. The method used is called moving the goal posts, which means changing the criteria so that whatever is presented is not good enough. The current birther movement is a great example of this. Initially, the complaint was that the full birth certificate was not being used. When the document was released, the criteria changed suggesting the document was not authentic. Despite all the evidence from the state of Hawaii with a Republican governor confirming the authenticity of the birth certificate was to no avail.
To guard against individual bias, science relies on consensus of scientific opinion, which does not mean it is always correct but the probability of being correct is higher than the opinion of an individual. Currently there is scientific consensus regarding climate change but the detractors are asserting that this opinion is false because the process was political. Unfortunately, this is an argument against the person rather than the claim itself.
It seems we have met the enemy and it is us.
Ronald Marshall, Petoskey