My commendations to Michael Weisskopf for the great excerpt from his book and for his courage in facing tragedy and in becoming stronger as a result [Oct. 2]. I say that as a doctor who has seen many amputees. Weisskopf's position as a senior correspondent for a major magazine meant that he got the best care. But what happens to the soldier with a high school diploma who never saw a doctor before his injury and who may return home to a setting that is ill equipped to get him to even the nearest wheelchair vendor? Our soldiers also deserve top-quality care for their injuries.
Stuart J. Glassman, M.D.
Concord, New Hampshire, U.S.
Weisskopf is a hero. I'm a retired veterans Administration clinical social worker who treated war heroes for 40 years. I know what they are made of. Besides the valor he demonstrated by saving lives, he is putting his life back together after a horrific trauma. Like the great war correspondent Ernie Pyle, Weisskopf chose the heart of the battle zone to profile the armed forces. Anyone who has read Weisskopf's story should be able to appreciate the heroism of our armed forces and veterans.
Phillip L. Elbaum
Deerfield, Illinois, U.S.
I wept when I read Weisskopf's searing and sensitive account of losing his hand in Iraq. In coming to terms with his loss, he realized that he had actually won a prize: the rest of his life. But his story revealed that he won more than that. By summoning the courage to undergo painful introspection after his injury, Michael Weisskopf has reclaimed his soul and his spirit. I too suffered a loss, 15 years ago, when my young husband died of brain cancer. As a result of addressing sometimes unendurable pain and grief,
I won the same prize.
Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.
I was riveted by Weisskopf's story of horrific pain and soul searching. It made me think of the soldiers who have died in Iraq and the more than 20,000 Americans who have suffered terrible physical and mental wounds there. Weisskopf's story brought attention to thousands of soldiers who left their youth, limbs and peace of mind overseas. They will never forget their government's deception in leading them into an unnecessary war.
Wappingers Falls, New York, U.S.
Weisskopf said he asked his psychologist why he had grabbed the grenade, and the answer was that it was an act of self-preservation "That's what all heroes are made of." I disagree that heroism is rooted in self-preservation. The soldier who throws himself on a grenade to save his buddies or the citizen who pulls a stranger from a burning car knowingly reduces his chance of survival to increase that of another. It is the willingness to risk one's life for a noble purpose that should define an act of heroism, not the saving of somebody's life coincident with saving your own and certainly not the instinct for self-preservation.
Bradley J. Hartman
Havana, Florida, U.S.
I very much appreciated Weisskopf's article and started to cry when I read about Specialist James Fair, the young man who suffered a brain injury, lost his eyesight and both hands. He weighs on my conscience because I support our mission. I have not reconciled myself to my responsibility for his injuries as an outspoken supporter of our liberation of Iraq. I have work to do on that, and it continues to keep me awake.
Redmond, Washington, U.S.
Weisskopf's story brought back memories of my experiences in World War II. I was awarded a Silver Star, but I'm fortunate to have survived for 83 years without having to pay as dearly as Weisskopf has. If he were in uniform, he would have been decorated with the Medal of Honor. Since so many reporters are losing lives or limbs, there should be a special decoration for their bravery. Of course, a medal can't replace the loss of a limb, but it can be a way for the American people to give recognition to reporters who have acted with valor.
Jesse E. Foster
Major, U.S.A.F. (ret.)
Having torn a tendon in my right rotator cuff, for which the only treatment is surgery, I have been obsessed with how I'm going to get dressed, do my hair and apply my make up with my dominant hand in a sling. Then I read Weisskopf's story. I am no longer worried about my situation. The bravery and courage exemplified by Weisskopf and his fellow amputees at Walter Reed are truly awe- inspiring and humbling. Those men should certainly be considered for Persons of the Year.
Mary Ellen Lukasiewicz
Cumberland, Rhode Island, U.S.
Weisskopf's tale of losing a hand in Iraq and his struggle to understand his ordeal was one of the most touching pieces of journalism I have read in many years. In the troubled Middle East, such a story is all too familiar. People are too eager to enter into wars that solve no problems, and the results are devastating. Let's hope that the world's problem solvers can lead us to a different, peaceful path for the future of this planet and its people.
Kfar Monash, Israel
Hugo Chavez's speech at the U.N. General Assembly, in which he called President George W. Bush the devil, made no contribution to peace [Oct. 2]. Chávez tried to transform an important forum of debate into a circus. Maybe he thought that he was on Jon Stewart's Daily Show, or maybe he was trying to mimic Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, who banged the lectern with his shoe in the same forum. Both leaders were disrespectful to the delegates, U.N. officials and the U.N. as an institution that represents our ultimate hope for peace. Secretary-General Kofi Annan should take measures to avoid such occurrences in the future and uphold the dignity of the institution.
José Thomaz Gama da Silva
Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Instead of criticizing Chavez for his verbal attack on the President, perhaps we should ask why foreign leaders like him are attacking Bush. Has a U.S. President ever been so vilified worldwide? Is the rest of the world wrong? I applaud the courage of Chávez, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and others who are not afraid to speak out. If our leaders are pigheaded and hell-bent on having their own erroneous way, we should stop them from pursuing their ill-conceived, self-destructive course.
Hacienda Heights, California, U.S.