Steve Chittock

Appreciation to Nick Grube for his three-part series on Mari Tardiff

I would like to commend Nick Grube on his three-part series about Mari Tardiff ("Mari's Climb," Oct. 29-31).

Nick did an excellent job relating her story. I realize this was no easy task and I would like to thank him for all of his hard work and those who "pinch hit" for Nick, allowing him the time to write an excellent, in-depth story that I for one believe needed to be told.

My heart goes out to Mari and the Tardiff family. I am experiencing some health problems that sometimes restrict my ability to walk and do what I want, but nothing comparable to what Mari is going through. Her courage and tenacity gives me strength. She is an inspiration to all of us who at times think we have it bad.

I admire Mari and next time I am having difficulties I will think of Mari and I will try harder to continue to work through the pain and non-compliance my body is trying to force on me.

I will pray that someday you will get your life back and I thank you for allowing us to read about your painfully slow recovery. I have confidence that you'll win the battle. Keep up the great work, Mari, and best wishes to you and your family.

Cindy White

Smith River

We are just 'juggling the books' to advance a political objective

I should start by saying that I am neither an expert on military affairs or foreign policy. I cannot understand our continued use of the National Guard to fight wars on foreign soil such as Iraq or Afghanistan. I realize that we utilize these troops to "supplement" our military but this appears disingenuous to me.

The National Guard should not be utilized in this fashion, especially on such a long-term basis. The argument is made that we have inadequate military forces to fight these wars effectively and no one can argue that the soldiers of the National Guard are not doing an outstanding job.

The question is, if we don't have adequate military forces then perhaps we should re-examine our entire strategy. We have troops stationed all over the world, including South Korea, throughout Europe and the South Pacific, just to name a few. If our military is not sufficient to fight the actual wars we are engaged in, should we not bring the troops in from these areas before we pull the National Guard into a foreign war?

I am not one to advocate the immediate withdrawal of our National Guard from foreign theaters as this could place the remaining servicemen in jeopardy, but in the long term I think we are being dishonest and treating the National Guard in an extremely unfair fashion.

I also realize that we have been doing this for a long time and no short-term, immediate fix is possible. However, if we cannot supply adequate military personnel to fight in a foreign war, perhaps we need to re-evaluate our commitment to these wars.

The primary function of the National Guard is to protect the actual borders and territory of the Untied States. There are certainly enough problems in this country that the Guard could assist with, such as protecting the citizens of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas from the encroaching drug wars spilling over from Mexico.

Some will say that the Guard is not trained in border enforcement and immigration law. This appears on the exterior to be fallacious. If they can be trained to fight a war in Iraq, they certainly could be trained in immigration and border enforcement.

I certainly do not claim to speak for the members of the Guard or their families. I'm sure they are proud and honored to fight for their country, and God bless them for it. My contention is that we are just "juggling the books" to advance a political objective at the expense of the American public.

Charles B. Ruble

Crescent City