Philly and Scouts

Not once did Gib Armstrong mention the reason the city is "slapping" the Boy Scouts ("Why a city with its hand out should not slap the Boy Scouts," May 26): their narrow-minded policy of banning gay scouts.

As Armstrong says, the Boy Scouts "instill kids with character-building concepts such as honor and service." Unfortunately, they also instill intolerance and bigotry in a new generation of children. Isn't it time we taught children to accept others for who they are so they do not grow up with the same prejudices that have led to a world of hate? Isn't it time we removed elected officials who do not have the courage to lead us to that better place?

It is not Philadelphia that is hurting the Boy Scouts. It is the stubborn refusal of the Boy Scouts of America National Council to embrace change that is hurting its members.

Jan Shalom

Audubon

Rapido assault

Thank you for the coverage of Memorial Day. The commentary by Arnold Garcia Jr., about the battle at Rapido, Italy, in 1944, was especially meaningful to my mother and me ("Valor against hopeless odds," May 26). My father was there as a member of the Fifth Army. He would tell us about the Rapido River, Monte Cassino and Gen. Mark Clark.

Mom and I cried when we read Garcia's article, but we cry for Dad every day. We are grateful that people are reminded that Memorial Day is not just a day for shopping or picnics or the start of summer at the Shore. Hopefully, one day we will not need to add any more names to the list of fallen heroes.

Sheryl Kalick

Philadelphia

Killer mentality

First Lt. John F. Cochrane's letter certainly tells us that although he could not fully understand the "why" of his mission as it related to his deep faith in God, he still did what he had to do as a soldier who had been sent to Vietnam to protect the country he loved (" 'What makes man . . . do the things he does?' " May 25).

But as much as I admire Cochrane, I am deeply concerned about the mentality in our nation - now re-created in the 21st century - that "Charley" (substitute any name you want) is a "formidable enemy" and "I will kill him if I get the chance." Doesn't "Charley" see all the Cochranes in the same way?

It may be not so much that God "has turned his back on mankind." Instead, the leaders of nations have turned their backs on God and led countless men and women to early deaths and called it patriotism.

Edward Huber

Philadelphia

School standards

Critics of the effort to implement statewide graduation requirements are missing the point ("School districts take their job seriously," May 19). This is not a debate about making sure some high school graduates are prepared for success in the workplace or in college, but rather ensuring that all of them are.

Some special interests say some schools already have rigorous academic standards, arguing the state should turn its attention elsewhere. But rigorous, high-quality measures of student achievement should be the rule, not the exception.

Pennsylvania has made significant progress toward ensuring that students are prepared for the increasingly competitive environment they will face upon graduation. Still, those efforts need to be backed by the assurance that a high school diploma has a uniform and substantive meaning regardless of which high school or school district awarded it. The proposed graduation requirements are a commonsense way to offer such assurances to colleges, universities and employers - not to mention graduates, their parents and taxpayers.

Gerald L. Zahorchak

Pennsylvania secretary of education

Harrisburg

Offensive cartoon

Perhaps cartoonist Pat Oliphant believes that President Bush "groveled" when he went to Saudi Arabia in pursuit of increased oil supplies earlier this month - indeed, I might agree (Inquirer, May 25). But I do not agree that our Saudi friends are fat, hook-nosed "masters," stereotypical Arabs who look upon the United States with disdain. Such images were, I thought, left in the dust-bin of political cartooning long ago. It bewilders me that The Inquirer would publish such an offensive cartoon.

Steven C. Dinero

Philadelphia