May 13, 2001
Key brothers backbone of aviation
To the Editor:
When a local television station ran the recent report on the National Guard refueling, they could have mentioned that the plumbing, valves, etc. in use were first developed here in Meridian, by local people.
Fred and Al Key were the backbone of aviation in this area. In 1935 they attempted to break the world record for sustained flight, using air-to-air refueling. The biggest obstacle was the valves, hardware and technique necessary to transfer the fuel.
Mr. A. D. Hunter, a near-genius in aircraft mechanics, took on the job. With his designs, Al and Fred established a new world record of twenty-seven days sustained flight. That equipment, with modification, is the basis of air-to-air refueling used by the world's military today.
The aircraft used was christened the "OLE MISS" and is on display in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington. The pilot of the refueling plane was Mr. James Keeton, retired United Airlines captain, now residing in Magnolia Springs, Ala.
Charles H. Birdsong
CDR USN (Ret.)
State now harder to defend
To the Editor:
It hit me like a ton of bricks. My radio alarm clock announced that Mississippi kept the current state flag by an overwhelming majority.
Then I read the headline in our local newspaper, revealing President Bush's desire to open the coast from Mobile to Panama City for oil and gas drilling. Floridians, including the president's brother Governor Jeb Bush have been vehemently opposed to this for years.
Reading further, I learned that "the entire Mississippi congressional delegation sent a letter drafted by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, urging the president to ignore Florida's opposition."
The Gulf Coast is where many Mississippians vacation. Do you really want your children to grow up on a polluted shoreline? What ever happened to the "Hospitality State"?
When I graduated from Northeast Lauderdale High School in 1995, I left for college with angst over leaving familiar territory, but with great hopes for the future.
My family's history in Mississippi goes back nearly 200 years. I have wonderful childhood memories of the Jimmie Rodgers Festival and birthday parties at the Dentzel Carousel.
I defend my home state weekly to co-workers and classmates with negative attitudes toward our economic and education system. I laud my excellent public education and the world-famous musicians and writers bred on Mississippi soil.
I often compare the state to Ireland beautiful countryside, friendly people, amazing storytellers, but with such a history of internal strife that people hesitate to move there.
After today I feel I cannot defend my home state. What do I tell my fellow church members when they ask why Mississippi holds on to a symbol that evokes pain in the hearts of half its citizens? How do I explain to my co-workers at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that we must now accept the risk of oil spills and the scars these rigs will make on the horizon?
Carrie Tomlinson Stevenson
Don't take food supply for granted
To the Editor:
It was with great interest recently that I noticed our nation had celebrated Tax Freedom Day, that point in time when the average American had earned enough money to pay for his or her local, state and federal taxes.
May 3, Tax Freedom Day for 2001, marked the longest period Americans have ever had to work to pay their taxes.
I would like to point out that on Feb. 7, 2001, the same average American had already earned enough to pay for the family's food bill for the year. That date represented one of the shortest spans of time ever required for workers to earn enough to pay for the family's food bill for the year.
While government at all levels is growing and spending more and more to take care of our needs, the farmers of this nation are struggling to stay in production agriculture. As their costs continue to climb and as their market prices continue to drop, they, unlike other businesses, have no avenue to regain their losses.
Many people quickly point out the government payments made to farmers. Well, bottom line, who really benefits from those payments? Stop and think where you as consumers would be if you did not have American agriculture supporting your food supply.
We could be dependent on other nations as we are for much of our energy requirements and like at what we are paying for those energy supplies.
Stop and think about from where your food comes. The next time you meet a farmer, you might want to thank him or her for their dedication and hard work. Don't take our food supply for granted.
Thomas B. Blizard
President, Lauderdale County Farm Bureau