The surviving spouse of a Blue Water Navy veteran may apply for survivor’s benefits if the veteran passed away from a condition related to Agent Orange. It is recommended that all Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard veterans (and surviving spouses) who were previously classified as Blue Water Navy veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam contact their local County Veterans Service Officer for more information about the claims process. The La Plata County Veterans Service Office provides information and assistance to veterans and their families so they can maximize their quality of life, well-being and potential. There is a wide range of benefits available. These services are free of charge. Please visit the La Plata County website at http://www.co.laplata.co.us/ for more info. The La Plata County Veterans Service Office is co-located with the Durango VA Clinic at 1970 E. 3rd Ave., Suite 102. For appointments, call 970-247-2214. The Veterans Service Office phone number is 970-759-0117. Office hours are 8 a.m. – 12 noon and 1 p.m. - 5 p.m., Monday – Friday, except holidays. – Richard Schleeter, La Plata County Veterans Services
Fascism: the real American enemy To the editor, It is too hard to express how deeply I was impacted by the El Paso murders. I was an immigrant to New Mexico in 1983, and I lived there until moving to Durango in 2012. Despite the quirky, quasi New Age “anglo” that I was, I was welcomed by the wonderful, homespun people in New Mexico. There were the people of New Mexico and there were the nomads – homeless white folk looking for love in all the wrong ways and thinking they could make a better planet when they only wanted to make it better for themselves. The people of New Mexico permitted that. The
“native anglos” and those who were Hispanic opened their home, their Land of Enchantment, to us. It was obvious from the place names, architecture, strength of the Catholic religion that we were the immigrants. It was also part of our acculturation to learn that; to understand why the “mixed culture” was the way it was and to treasure the harmony of the three races that blossomed in our beloved state. On Aug. 1, the Telegraph printed an excellent letter about Donald Trump’s racist behavior against blacks on the East Coast, citing government convictions he was not an equal opportunity renter and revealing he had blacks “cleared” from the Atlantic City casino floor. Then, a lone white man opened fire in El Paso, targeting Hispanics. I immediately heard so much talk about immigrants and how anti-immigrant rhetoric had been ratcheted up to this pernicious level, that I didn’t come to my senses until seeing the victims’ photos. This deranged serial killer didn’t shoot “unwanted” immigrants, he shot American citizens and tourists. In picture after picture of the seven dead Mexicans, I saw neat and trim, bourgeoisie, well-fed, respectable types who, I dare say, drove legally through customs and were welcomed into this country to spend their money. This is not an immigrant issue. Border cities want this business. These tourists pay taxes, patronize restaurants and look to have some good, clean fun. Go to El Paso and tell me who the latecomers are, who the aliens are. The only race of sufficient numbers to constitute an immigrant population in El Paso is white. I resent hate-filled white men attempting to portray all us white Americans as some master race (however imperfectly we master ourselves). If this is what they believe, stewing in this melting pot that made America great, this is not where they belong. The allegiance we all pledged to America ends with freedom and justice for all. I am sickened that hard-working, school supply-shopping Americans can be gunned down in the store and “talking heads” on television can only conceive it as an
immigrant issue. This is nothing less than a gross insult to hard-working, taxpaying Americans. Is it any less insulting to the gunned-down Mexican tourists? We owe Mexico an apology. How can its citizens be murdered and it be spun a strictly American issue? We are on the verge of throwing our beautiful Southwest into a land of fear and terror, with all the subsequent economic fallout. Hispanics and anglos live together in comparative harmony in the Southwest, appreciating each other, laughing with each other, helping each other. Hispanics can walk in the Southwest with heads up, proud, rooted in their families, culture and their homeland. This is what they deserve, even before considering the high percentage of them who are veterans. But I don’t hear the right people, the people with the real power, saying that. I hear them saying, “They’re not one of us.” I have read of when the Irish were “not one of us.” I have read the same of the Polish and the Italians. When World War II was threatening, there was talk the Germans weren’t one of us. Should they have been put in concentration camps? I have read of people in power wanting to label those who “fight” fascism as “terrorists.” Who are the terrorists in this country? Who kills the most innocents? Let’s not forget Timothy McVeigh. Is it terrorism our white elite is fighting or is the terrorist label being continually broadened against anyone opposed to the fascist agenda? When my stepmother was taking her citizenship test in the ’70s, there was a question meant to filter World War II fascists. For whatever reason that is still in place and pertinent. Fascism is inherently un-American! We must stop these mentally ill people, for this illness is not only a proven contagion, it has always proven malignant. How can I stay true to my pledge of allegiance without letting all flirting with fascism know they should go back where they came from: last century. – Philippe LeFevre, Durango
Aug. 15, 2019 n 7
The Independent Weekly Line on Durango and Beyond.