This is in response to Mr. Henry Kane’s letter, “I will stand up to honor a hero,” in the Feb. 7 issue of the Beaverton Valley Times. Mr. Kane challenged me to publicly debate the issue of renaming the Southridge High School athletic field for a graduate of Southridge who played football while a student and who was recently killed in the line of duty while serving with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.

I do not accept Mr. Kane’s challenge. I have publicly stated in the pages of the Beaverton Valley Times my opinion in support of the Beaverton School District’s policy of not giving names to school facilities (e.g., athletic fields) separate from that of the school. I see no reason now to debate the issue. If the School Board wants to discuss any aspect of my opinion or reasoning with me, they need only call.

I do, however, as a supporter of the board’s policy take issue with Mr. Kane’s implication, whether intended or not, that supporters of the policy at issue are anti-hero, and would not stand to honor a hero.

I am an active member of a Veterans of Foreign Wars Post. “Honor the dead by caring for the living” is a guiding principle of our activities. A couple of our initiatives in which I was involved (standing up for veterans who honorably served, heroes and non-heroes alike) resulted in action by the Oregon Legislature: Legislation authorizing the waiver of tuition by Oregon universities for the spouses and children of service members killed or 100 percent disabled in the line of duty (SB-1066, section 9, 2008). Legislation later extended a version of the tuition waiver program to Oregon community colleges. My VFW comrades and I also initiated action which resulted in legislation (SB-822, 2007) establishing the current Oregon system of giving hiring preference to veterans for jobs with the state, counties, cities and special districts. Such standing up for military heroes and non-heroes alike have occurred across this state and nation. Mr. Kane, in your alleged standing up for “heroes,” what have you done for the “heroes?”

Heroes come in all sizes and shapes, ages, colors, in both genders, different sexual orientations, and from all walks of life. Though many have worn uniforms (police, firefighter, military, etc.), many heroes have never put on a uniform. What defines a “hero” or “heroic” is often in the eye of the beholder. The military services, however, have long-established systems to recognize “heroes” and “heroic” acts by an array of decorations and awards for valor. The majority of service men and women do not earn such decorations. This is not to discount the value of their service, however. They do their duty to the best of their ability, and without them, the job wouldn’t get done. I imagine if the naming policy were to be changed, scores of Southridge graduates would be worthy of consideration.

Communities normally coalesce around their schools. It is hoped that any damage to the coalescence around Southridge that may have been caused by this controversy will soon be healed.

It is further hoped that the family of the young soldier involved will soon be satisfied that the service of their soldier is appreciated and has been properly recognized.

Robert H. Thornhill is a Beaverton resident.

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