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Sunday, July 28, 2002

By Staff
Kemper historian remembers a different Traveler'
To the editor:
I would like to commend those individuals responsible for placing the "carousel horses" around Meridian, and the sponsors of each one. We should all admire the artists who have spent time in making each new unveiling an inspiring event.
I have also looked forward to learning each one's name, not being aware of the individuals who made these choices, but some of the names were so interesting and appropriate that they added much to the overall success of this timely labor of love.
In the July 18 edition of The Meridian Star, I part company with the naming of Horse No. 32. People with a historical background will realize "Traveler" was a famous horse not to be painted and represented as a train of the future. I may stand alone in my disapproval of the name, but I am reasonably sure there are prominent individuals in our city, state and throughout the Southland who believe the name of the famous horse "Traveler" should be retired from commercial or promotional programs.
There are so many good and appropriate names that could represent the trains of the future.
Let me say again to all involved and will continue to be involved in this promotion of Meridian, you have accomplished a lasting exhibit to be proud of for the general public and visitors alike.
I am not a crusader who would have you change anything, but rather to remind you there are among our number those who remember and revere our passed history.
When I visit the beautiful and modern station, and I surely will, and observe the carousel horse named "Traveler," my mind will go back to the terrain of Old Virginia and the magnificent steed that was at the beck and call of Gen. Robert E. Lee.
McRae Limerick
Reputable' in eye of the beholder
To the editor:
In his column "Flying Flags on the Coast" in Sunday's Star (July 21), Assistant Managing Editor Terry R. Cassreino is quoted as saying that the NAACP, which opposes the flying of the Confederate battle flag at the beachfront display in Biloxi is "no doubt a much more reputable and distinguished organization" than the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, which supports the flying of the battle flag.
Mr. Cassreino, why are those who dare to advocate for European Americans less "reputable" than those who advocate for African Americans?
Hats off to the Harrison County supervisors for having the courage to fly the "Stars and Bars."
Richard Williams
Amtrak subsidy nothing to what airlines get
To the editor:
The Meridian Star's July 25th editorial questioning Amtrak funding curiously failed to speak of taxpayer support of the "for profit" airlines. This last year, the airlines received an annual appropriation of upwards of $13 billion plus a $15 billion bailout for the loss of four jet airliners.
This is more in one year than Amtrak has received in its entire 31 years of existence. Here lies the making of a valid editorial.
Amtrak has never been properly funded yet, is expected to compete with the generously funded airlines and highways. Here in North Alabama, we have been without Amtrak service for more than 23 years.
In 1979, funding cuts, not lack of riders removed our area from the national passenger railroad system. However, during this time, we have received a new eight-lane interstate and an annually expanding international airport.
Your critical comments of Amtrak are surprising especially in light of Meridian's new station and two Amtrak trains each day. If only the people of North Alabama were so fortunate.
Jim Norton
Huntsville, Ala.
Government should subsidize Amtrak
To the editor:
The Star's anti-Amtrak tirade is out of step with the needs of the American people. A recent CNN-Gallup poll reported that 70 percent of Americans believe that the government should continue to support rail passenger service.
Amtrak ought to be regarded as a public service just as the Centers for Disease Control, the National Weather Service and the Federal Aviation Administration. It provides an important transportation alternative for many smaller communities across our country.
As Sen. Hollings of South Carolina proposes, Amtrak should be adequately funded so that it can expand its skeletal route network so as to serve more communities, more often, and collect more fares. This is the way to allow it to take advantage of economies of scale and to reduce the bill which taxpayers pay for it.
In our current transportation climate, with subsidies for airways, highways and waterways, it will never become completely self-supporting.
But with sufficient capital funding from the government and significant growth of its system, it will be able to pay its operating costs from the fare box. If the Congress were to appropriate as little as $10 per American per year for Amtrak a relative pittance in our national budget we could have as good a passenger train system as some of the Eastern European countries, such as Poland.
Ross M. Goddard Jr.
Decatur, Ga.
Requiring Amtrak to be self-sufficient
is not realistic
To the editor:
Your editorial on Amtrak dated July 21 is incorrect. Without the $205 million emergency appropriation, Amtrak service through Meridian and most everywhere else would have ended this summer. Is The Meridian Star really advocating for the discontinuance of Meridian's only passenger train the Crescent? …
The requirement that Amtrak be self-sufficient was totally unrealistic as no passenger train system anywhere in the world makes money. And in monetary terms, Amtrak has been a much smaller drain on the national treasury than the highways or airports have been.
Even at the $1.2 billion level, spending on Amtrak will still be only a small fraction of what is lavished on the other modes. Even your precious Amtrak Reform Council has said that Amtrak needs more funding. Spending on Amtrak is not wasteful, as these trains provide much-needed mobility to millions of Americans.
Amtrak has a new CEO named David Gunn who is trimming wasteful spending and has a record of turning around troubled transit systems. I say we give Gunn the resources he needs to make Amtrak a success.
John Sita Jr.
New Orleans, La.