Letters to the editor

This is a skirmish; that was a battle

The errors and exercise of poor judgment contained in your article [“The Battle(s) of Asheville,” March 30] cannot be allowed to stand unremarked. Make no mistake: Asheville was a battle, not a skirmish. A skirmish may be generally defined as a clash of brief duration, involving small numbers of troops who, in a majority of cases, hadn’t intended on running into each other. The action is hasty and very mobile, and its conclusion is not decisive tactically or strategically. [The Battle of] Asheville lasted several hours and involved forces deliberately arrayed against one another in offensive and defensive postures.

Confederate forces defending the town included not simply “militia,” though the “Silver Grays” — our home guard — were present and prominent; so, too, were companies of the 62nd (Clayton’s) [Regiment], the 6th … 25th … and others. Further, it is apparently not needless to say that the battlefield proper encompassed a much greater area than that portion currently contained within the confines of the Botanical Gardens [at Asheville].

As regards the Commemorative Corps: We are new, yes, but what or whom are we “independent” of? We’ve not seceded from anything yet. Our founder’s name is Jeff Lovelace, not Jim, as you have it. Certainly a quick glance at a calendar would have shown you that 02 April falls on Saturday, not Sunday.

Lastly, and more crucially, it was misleading and damaging to repeatedly remind your readers that our ceremonial event — along with the other, subsequent and separate [event] — was perhaps not going to take place at all. The language and tone of this wholly unhelpful and unnecessary blast of negativity and doubt created a great deal of confusion. Why not state: “For information on the(se) proposed events, call so-and-so — ,” then hush up? … Our event came off splendidly and on schedule, as proposed to the executive committee of the Botanical Gardens. A last-minute phone call to us could have prevented a pronounced uncertainty.

And by the way, we are not “buffs.” You may refer to us as re-enactors, living historians or reactivated troops; “buffs” is how one gets one’s shoes to shine.

— M. Peter Lorenz
Captain, Commemorative Corps

[Writer Jon Elliston responds: The Sunday/Saturday error was a regrettable mistake on my part, and Lovelace’s first name is indeed Jeff, as Xpress noted in a correction the following week. Whether “battle” or “skirmish,” the clash in Asheville apparently resulted in no casualties, as a speaker at the Commemorative Corps event noted. And as for the uncertainty about whether the event would be held, Xpress published the latest, most accurate information that was available when that issue of the newspaper went to press.]

Divine creation needs faithful stewards

The first human glimpses of our planet moved the poet MacLeish to write: “To see the earth as we now see it, small and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the unending night … .” Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell observed, “My view of our planet was a glimpse of divinity.” The Apostle Paul would surely agree, as he wrote two centuries earlier: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.”

Sadly, “We and our children face a growing crisis in the health of the creation … through which, by God’s grace, we are sustained” (Evangelical Environmental Network, creationcare.org). Temperatures are rising, forests are disappearing, dead zones now exist along coastlines, fresh water is threatened, and the air canopy is increasingly polluted. Surely, every person who acknowledges a Divine Creator would want to cherish and protect their Creator’s work.

… In the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) Synthesis Report released last week by 1,300 eminent scientists from 95 countries representing 22 national science academies, [it was] concluded that 15 of the 24 ecosystems vital to life on earth have been seriously degraded or used unsustainably. “The bottom line of this assessment is that we are spending earth’s natural capital, putting such strain on the natural functions of earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted” (millenniumassessment.org).

I belong to the growing environmental stewardship movement. This relatively new activity in many churches has sprung from a religious desire to renew and energize our commitment to cherish and protect our Creator’s earthly gift. Creation care has often been neglected within faith communities, both as a spiritual calling and as a practical ministry. Caring for Creation: Interfaith Partners of WNC is one such group that is encouraging a renewed interest in environmental stewardship. It was formed under the North Carolina Council of Churches, which is currently sponsoring workshops across North Carolina to alert faith communities to the serious problems that our shared home faces (www.nccouncilofchurches.org).

… One Earth, one Creator and one shared destiny. Could your faith community join us in protecting that shared destiny?

— Eva Ritchey

Hearing an ominous silence

Last July, Cecil Bothwell reported in Mountain Xpress on leaking uranium from a truck stopped near the Asheville airport [“Cake out in the rain,” July 7]. While non-nuclear transportation incidents occur with considerable frequency, there is almost total silence from officialdom about the potential for disastrous mishaps involving radioactive shipments.

We in Western North Carolina should be aware that our railways and highways create risks as well as benefits. Our good fortune for the future is not guaranteed. If our community should experience a nuclear transportation disaster comparable to that recent nonradioactive train wreck in Graniteville, S.C., the resulting situation could result in not just temporary evacuation, but an uninhabitable area for many generations to come. Exposed persons would likely experience an increased risk of cancer and children with birth defects.

Our government is planning for new nuclear weapons and new nuclear power reactors. This would place even greater demands for shipments of radioactive materials and waste through the counties of WNC. We need to consider how a community like ours could exert influence over such shipments, but silence implies consent.

— Lewis Patrie

What the label doesn’t tell you

Many people in and around Asheville view eating “free-range” animal products as a humane alternative to factory-farmed meals. Unfortunately, the term “free-range” is often misunderstood. For instance, when it comes to egg layers and broilers, the only requirement to use this label is that the birds have USDA-certified access to the outdoors. It doesn’t matter how large the “outdoors” is, nor does it matter how many birds are competing for space. In fact, they typically must compete with hundreds or thousands of other birds to get to the exit. Additionally, “free-range” hens are cruelly de-beaked at the hatchery and generally only have 1 to 2 square feet of floor space per bird. Free-range male “layer” chicks are thrown away at birth since they are useless to all concerned. Sometimes they are gassed; other times they are thrown in trash bags and eventually suffocate.

Because they are viewed as commodities, “free-range” broilers and layer hens are routinely subjected to abusive handling and transport.

“Free-range” animals, like factory-farmed animals, are slaughtered at a mere fraction of their normal life expectancy: They don’t look very “free” on dinner plates. So, while “free-range” is better than factory farming, the best option is to go vegan. For more information about truly humane eating, please visit www.farmsanctuary.com.

— Joe Walsh

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