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Dick Schwartz's Valentine's Day commentary ("Love letters revisited") was so uplifting to read. I love the written word and am a many-year subscriber to the Star Tribune — words written on paper are still valuable in this internet world.

I could so identify with it, as my husband retired from the Navy in 1979, and the numbering of the letters is what we did during those military years. He died in August of this past year at the age of 82, and I have all those letters, plus many years of journaling of our lives when we started our life in Minnesota in 1975. Those letters and journals now are of great comfort to me as they describe lives well-lived.

Now, in my grief of losing my husband, I write each night in a journal, "Letters to My Husband In Heaven." He will never read them but they bring me great comfort to write.

I was so touched when the author quoted his mother, "Mom told me Dad once told her how writing his letters 'saved his life.'" I could visualize a young military man at war never knowing if he would return home, and those letters were what he held onto. As I write letters to "My Husband in Heaven," I realize it's not for him but for me to learn how to survive without him. Just as his father wrote those letters for himself, just to try and survive a war he didn't know he would return home from.

Thank you, Mr. Schwartz, for such a beautiful article.

Linda Nelson, Bloomington


Schwartz's "Love letters revisited" was the perfect Valentine's Day message. Several years ago I was given a packet of letters my father had written during World War II, not to his fiancée (my mom), but to one of his boyhood friends who was also in the Navy. They were both part of a group of Navy and Army former Boy Scouts from St. Paul who were scattered in the Pacific and Europe. Dad's friend, unknown to everyone, had saved all the letters he received from fellow Scouts. His daughter found them and gave them to my dad. The humor and complaints were there, but there too were love, care and worry for each other. One was shot down in Europe. As each of the young men learned of that painful loss, he wrote about it. There were also letters talking about the girls back home and how they missed and loved them.

As I read Schwartz's message, I couldn't help but think what we've lost by not sending handwritten letters. Years from now, the emails and texts will be in the wind, but he and I have our fathers' letters.

Janet Grieder, St. Paul


$2.5M for what we already know

There is a reason no hyperloop systems currently exist for actual public transportation. It is undeveloped, unproven technology. It is, at best, a speculative idea. It would be underground? That would be way more expensive than surface transport. The Star Tribune needs some folks on staff with technical expertise so It can avoid wasting space in the paper with unhelpful editorials about a "hyperloop" ("When a hyperloop is more than a hyperloop," Opinion Exchange, and "Let's mull a 'hyperloop' future," editorial, Feb. 9).

Hopefully the Met Council will not waste $2.5 million looking at this.

Mark Brakke, Coon Rapids


The hyperloop proposal's "15-minute" trip along Hwy. 52, presumably from St. Paul to Rochester, sounds lovely. But compare it to flight: MSP to Rochester is 17 minutes (according to — with extra time before and after. Similarly, you might spend 45 minutes traveling to the hyperloop station, parking and waiting to leave; 15 to ride; and 20 at the other end for transportation. My wife and I drive from downtown Minneapolis to most points in Rochester in that same 80 minutes, 70 from St. Paul. Everyone south of the downtowns would continue to drive to Rochester because it would be faster and easier. Western and northern Minnesotans would still avoid city centers and drive straight down to save time and effort. Who will ride it? Supporters say the "15-minute" trip will draw commuters and tourists: How many, and for just the three downtowns? Will it exist mainly for medical staff, patients and business people in the metro downtowns and Rochester? Will Rochester and medical groups fund it, or will all of Minnesota pay billions in subsidies?

It's also advertised as "carbon neutral." But why not spend the billions supporting additional electric vehicles, e-charging stations and e-buses across the state? And why not build a less-expensive but fast electric train for rural commuters? Add brief Hwy. 52 stops at Inver Hills College, Hampton, Cannon Falls, Zumbrota, Pine Island or Oronoco. A "15-minute" hyperloop project could not do that.

Richard Jewell, Minneapolis


Skip the milquetoast answers

Not to be unkind, but I want a bold leader, not a color-by-number president of the University of Minnesota. I was disappointed to hear (and perhaps I heard wrong) candidate James Holloway, in his Twin Cities campus interview, expressing safe, widely espoused, conventional answers to every public university's concerns — close engagement with the Legislature, a pledge for diversity, the importance of service ("U president finalist says service to state is key"). What is unique about the University of Minnesota? What does he find compelling? What draws him to both iron ore and civil rights?

What I hope to hear from each of the three candidates is an awareness of specific questions about the U's future, for example: on-campus and off-campus violence, student accessibility to information, underfunded theoretical research, ill-defined parental/community resources, the future of adjunct faculty, support for the teaching arm of the medical school, and so much more. As a U alum, I want to hear from each candidate an expressed interest in some of these unwilling-to-be-silenced, tolling bells. Paint me an original, one I may not like at first glance or want to hear about. I promise to listen and take a second look.

What has each candidate been willing to risk in the past? What is each one's vision, each one's intent moving forward, to acknowledge and embrace the yet unknown? How might we as Minnesotans, devoted to the vulnerabilities of truly engaged research and learning, best define presidential courage? Those are my questions. I invite you to ask yours.

Judith Monson, St. Paul


An enthusiastic recommendation

Today there is so much social and political turmoil upon which one might wish to comment, one hardly knows where to start. So it is refreshing to know that serendipity can still occur and provide a surprise opportunity for joyful reflection. It happened to me.

A chance reading by a friend uncovered an announcement that a free and open-to-the-public concert provided by the University of Minnesota Symphony Orchestra would take place at the Ted Mann Concert Hall on a recent Wednesday night. The friend suggested we attend, and we did. What a happy decision this was!

This ensemble is led by Orchestral Studies Director Mark Russell Smith and is a large and enthusiastic group of young musicians. It filled the stage, and I'm here to tell you that I have seldom heard any more amazing, robust and beautiful orchestral music than we heard from this group! The energy and musicality displayed was breathtaking, particularly for this age group. The featured pianist, student Hyein Choi, was astounding in her concerto by Dmitri Shostakovich. The final number by Maurice Ravel was simply dynamite, leading to a standing audience ovation complete with whoops and whistles. Peering ahead, I would say two things: Minnesota Orchestra, look out! And, folks, don't sit home — here is a chance to happily benefit from your tax dollars going to the University of Minnesota. The next concert of this outstanding group should play to a packed house at the Ted Mann. Quite simply, music at its best!

David Lingo, Golden Valley