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It is Memorial Day, that quiet, solemn day each year that was established to recognize all those who died in service to their country, those honored few who gave their last full measure. Perhaps this year, at least for this day, we can put aside our political discord and anger and not allow those differences to interfere with a common recognition of that original reason for and meaning of this day.

It is also important to keep in mind that their sacrifice came without political or partisan views; they were neither red nor blue. Among them were Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor and members of many races and creeds — all of them Americans — and they died solely for the cause of their country and for all of us.

Make your annual trip to the cemetery with flags waving, then home for a picnic. Enjoy the company of friends and relatives — but at the same time remember those who died to make possible your freedom to do so.

Also, I'm sure that wishing people a happy Memorial Day is well-intentioned, but it is important to acknowledge the depth of meaning behind this day and to honor it accordingly. Perhaps a simple "have a thoughtful Memorial Day" would suffice. After all, "War is young men [and now women] dying and old men talking" (Franklin Roosevelt).

Although that time when wars will no longer plague us is apparently still far in the future, perhaps commemorating Memorial Day can provide us with some hope that it will eventually come to pass. I hope you do have a thoughtful Memorial Day.

D. Roger Pederson, Minneapolis


I'd like to suggest a way to honor the military people who sacrificed so much for all of us. You can help by supporting today's veterans, not just by saying "thanks for your service" but by contributing to the groups that help veterans. Notice the often older veteran selling poppies, toss them a dollar or 10, take the time to learn about the poppy symbol, teach your children about the sacrifices made by our military. I promise it will make you feel American pride.

Margaret Mercer, Long Lake


RCV would reduce the spectacle

Mark Johnson, the Republican minority leader of the Minnesota Senate, is half-correct ("Consider the spectacle of the 2024 legislative session," Opinion Exchange, May 23). The Democratic Party has a far-left-wing faction, which sometimes frustrates voters, including more left-center DFLers. Yet, in his bid to encourage citizens to vote for the Republican Party ticket, Johnson is silent about the fact that the Republican Party has a far right-wing faction that also frustrates voters, including more centrist-minded Republicans. I suspect that most Minnesota voters are a part of the sensible, independent-minded political center, and they, too, should have a government that works for them.

The problem is not whether we hold caucuses or primaries to nominate major party candidates, nor should we erect needless harsh legal barriers for independent and minor party candidates. The problem is that you do not need support from the majority of voters to win an election. The solution? Ranked-choice voting.

Adopting ranked-choice voting would require the winner to have the support of the majority as opposed to the mere plurality of votes cast. It would reduce, if not eliminate, the potential for alternative parties or candidates to spoil the election, and it tends to lead to more positive campaigns because candidates cannot just appeal to their far right-wing or far left-wing base.

In the 2024 Minnesota legislative session, a modest bill to allow local units of government to adopt ranked-choice voting almost passed, but a few Democrats and a large segment of Republicans voted against the bill. While I would have preferred switching to ranked-choice voting in all elections, I appreciate the importance of gradual reform, starting at the local level with cities being given the option to exercise some local control.

If Johnson is serious about giving all Minnesotans the government that they deserve, he should back ranked-choice voting, starting at the local level, and encourage his Republican colleagues to vote in favor of the reform at the next legislative session.

Many Republicans and Democrats alike are tired of a government that only caters to the narrow ideological extremes. They want majority rule, they want more positive and inclusive campaigns, and they also want a greater level of choice and debate without worrying about electoral spoilage.

In terms of what sort of government Minnesotans deserve, let's help to make it one that works for the majority of Minnesotans who are tired of the narrow, ideological extremists on both sides of the aisle dominating the debate.

Edward T.J. Brown, Parkers Prairie, Minn.


Can the DFL focus, please?

I share Lori Sturdevant's disappointment that the Legislature failed to pass a bonding bill ("Job One for an even-year Legislature gets demoted," Opinion Exchange, May 22). Like her, I think the need for tending to infrastructure is due some fresh appreciation. After all, infrastructure is vital to all Minnesotans, regardless of party affiliation or geographic location.

Sturdevant also expresses disappointment that the Equal Rights Amendment did not pass. This proposal seemed aimed primarily at pleasing two of the DFL's core constituencies — those who regard unrestricted abortion as the most important right and the LGBT constituency. Apparently DFL Speaker Melissa Hortman was unwilling to subordinate this measure to a focus on passing Job One — a bonding bill. In Hortman's own words, doing so would "forgo our values and what we ran on."

My question is, whose values, and who should the Legislature be representing, Minnesotans as a whole or the DFL's core constituencies? It seems to me that Planned Parenthood and its agenda have an inordinate influence in the DFL legislative group and the Democrats in general. U.S. Sen. Tina Smith is a former Planned Parenthood executive and apparently proud of that fact, while the current Planned Parenthood CEO is a former DFL state representative. Perhaps this is why the DFL is so focused on making Minnesota an abortion sanctuary and destination state. In doing so, they seem quite content to let the concerns of greater Minnesota, such as infrastructure, take a back seat.

Granted, Republicans are not blameless in the deadlock, but they do represent the largest amount of territory in the state, and because of the alleged DFL "mandate" their concerns are frequently ignored. A good way to make "One Minnesota" more than an empty slogan would be to put the general welfare ahead of the interests of DFL key pressure groups.

Donald Wolesky, Minneapolis


A lesson in the petals

Lilacs reigned in unassuming grandeur the last few weeks, maroon, purple and light blue, until nature rained and their petals fell off. Thank you, lilacs, for bringing us your warm color in early spring. Dandelions flourished as well, bright yellow dots on new grass, smiling innocently, trying to be nice, their status having been elevated from "weed" to "web of nature," food and protection for microorganisms and other creatures. We've redefined them not quite to full beauty but to acceptance, and they are teaching us a lesson. For many years we've poisoned them, dug them up and discarded them, or simply mowed them in half. Still, they survived, and now they forgive us and smile again. How gracious. Aging quickly, they transform into spheres of grey-white fluff, not unlike the hair on some of us getting older, which can be beautiful.

Don't worry, they tell us. Things will work out. How innocent.

Donald M. Hall, Minneapolis