I am writing to take issue with Annette Meeks' commentary in Tuesday's Opinion Exchange section ("Don't make Minnesota the land of countless lakes ... but no fun"). She suggested the latest surge of wake boats on Minnesota lakes is the next in line of the progression of recreational boating and any anti-wake boat rhetoric is "anti-fun." She goes on to say people are against wake boats because they are too noisy, and surfers are not courteous.
Meeks misses the issue completely. Wake boats can create three- to four-foot waves. I have a pontoon boat that is very stable, but there has been a handful of times in which I've come very close to being swamped and tipping over due to these waves. Further, I live on a 1,100-acre lake, and these waves don't dissipate as they would on larger lakes. This leads to shoreline erosion and churning up lake-bottom vegetation.
Look, I'm not an "anti-fun" guy by any means. Keep your wake boats. But let's limit wake-boat use to larger lakes that can handle them.
C. Keepers, Eden Prairie
Meeks completely fails to address the primary problem posed by this type of boat: shoreline erosion. As a lakeshore owner, I can attest to the pounding inflicted on shorelines, emergent vegetation, fish spawning beds, and the increase in turbidity caused by heavily-ballasted wake boats. Meeks' organization, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, "actively advocates the principles of individual freedom." One's individual freedom ends when one's actions result in damage or harm to another's property or person.
Meeks ends with the line, "We don't want to be the state that bans fun." This is not just a Minnesota issue. In a MinnPost article from July of last year, it was pointed out that the wake surfing issue is being debated "from Oregon and Idaho to New Hampshire" and that research is happening in Canada and Australia. Our own University of Minnesota has also initiated research in the problem.
This is not an issue with easy or obvious answers. Owners of wake surfing boats have invested north of $100,000 in some of these boats. Minnesota lakes belong to all of us and have to be protected from actions that degrade or harm them. Hopefully, the ongoing scientific study will lead to accurate quantification of the effects these monstrous wakes are having and how this activity can best be conducted to minimize their impact.
Robert Adomaitis, Eden Prairie
Can we memorialize more prudently next year?
On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the church bells in Loring Park tolled ... and tolled ... and tolled. The steroidal carillon at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral tolled every few minutes, embellished for the occasion with a constant barrage of Christian hymns and long, crescendoing tolls supposedly paying homage to that awful day.
I lived in Manhattan for 35 years, recently transplanted to Minneapolis. I witnessed both planes crash into the twin towers on 9/11. From my rooftop, I watched fellow New Yorkers leap from high floors to their certain deaths. I am forever damaged from that barbaric terrorism. Even 20 years later, I can't watch pictures and footage of 9/11. I avoid those reminders because they trigger depression, anxiety and really bad dreams.
When the Loring Park church bells went into overdrive this year, I was bombarded by those reminders, and because I live two blocks from St Mark's, I couldn't avoid them.
Carillonneurs must think they are doing a community service. Their daily program marks time during the day, with longer hymns played at least twice a day. Their arrogant presumption that those tolls and hymns are somehow comforting to the community is appalling. I am not a Christian, so their carillon only annoys me (and I suspect many others) and furthers my antipathy for Christian evangelism.
In New York, these carillons would be deemed noise pollution. I wish Minneapolis would come to the same recognition. Meanwhile, I'm moving out of Loring Park to any neighborhood where the church bells don't toll.
Timothy Thomas, Minneapolis
Someone needs to say publicly, loudly and often until the practice is stopped that military flyovers are shockingly awful "tributes" to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
A fighter jet buzzed over my house Saturday morning, part of the remembrance ceremonies at the Minnesota State Capitol. As the enormity of the sound grew, it felt as if the very air were pressing down on my neighborhood. In the surge of adrenaline that is inevitable when one suddenly hears a warplane overhead, I forgot I knew that a flyover was planned for that day. My first panicked thought was that a passenger jet destined for the nearby MSP airport was careening earthwards. Texts from friends in the moments that followed expressed concern that the Capitol building (just three miles away) or the governor's residence (four blocks from my house) were targets.
If you have never heard an F-16, you can hardly imagine for how long the sound crescendos before it hits its height of enveloping you. Having heard one this morning, I cannot imagine that roar arousing anything except terror in anyone who wasn't expecting to hear it. Or anything but PTSD for those who have survived war zones, or who witnessed the events of Sept. 11, even at a distance.
On the level of metaphor, this is exceedingly ill-conceived. There could hardly be any more grim commemoration of aircraft murderously flown so low over cities that they crashed into buildings than purposefully flying aircraft threateningly low over a city. And yet cities from coast to coast were also flown over by military aircraft on Saturday. The Department of Defense website calls flyovers a way to "thank Americans for service to country." The Palm Springs Air Museum says it is a "fitting tribute" and the "highest honors you can get."
In a geopolitical context, it is astonishingly perverse to think that a display of military might — a display that implicitly brags about our capacity to kill people in other countries — somehow honors the people who lost their lives here to a terrorist attack. I cannot imagine that those who worked in the World Trade Center or who served in the Pentagon, those first responders who ran into burning towers or civilians who helped ground a plane over Pennsylvania to save others' lives, would be proud to be remembered by a show of killing force.
Have we learned so little from decades of endless war that we still think brute military might is a celebration rather than a tragedy? Surely patriotism should not be equated with building bigger, better killing machines, and then deploying them just for sport. Surely there are better uses of hundreds of thousands of dollars than terrorizing unsuspecting citizens in the name of memorializing unsuspecting citizens.
Our collective expressions of sorrow and tribute ought not evoke trauma. We owe it to the memories of those who died on that day — and to the memories of the tens of thousands who died in the subsequent two decades of wars waged in their name — to offer an honor that is a sign of peace or contemplation. They, and we, deserve gestures of healing rather than aggression.
Andrea Kaston Tange, St. Paul
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