It's never too late to join our favorite letters sweepstakes
The year's halfway point seems a good time to remind everyone of an annual event of huge consequence: Favorite letters to the editor.
For the past three years, Jim Slusher, our assistant managing editor/opinion, and I have set aside some of the letters we like the best, discussed them and decided which ones we should run again and share with our readers.
I scanned our choices for last year, and it was a really interesting array, touching on topics ranging from the behavior of Blackhawks fans to school start times to graduated state income taxes to the letter that remains my personal favorite. It was from Len Brauer of Palatine, written on his deathbed and published, at his wish, posthumously. He had written earlier about foregoing conventional medical procedures to prolong his life, and this letter was his personal epitaph as the end drew near, "When I first wrote about this 2 years ago, I closed with the following statement, 'To paraphrase Alfred Lord Tennyson, 'God's finger will touch me and I will sleep.' I'm OK with that.' But today I would like to add: Please God, give me the finger already."
A few weeks ago, the lack of a state budget and the dysfunction in Springfield prompted us to run a front-page editorial titled, "Enough!" We joined newspapers across the state in telling state leaders -- emphatically -- to "quit the politics and produce a budget." We also invited readers to share their views on the state's inaction.
Here's an excerpt from one we received that Slusher thought particularly poignant.
"We in Illinois who travel to other states, or talk to friends and relatives in other states, are tired of trying to defend our State. We no longer can. My family has discussed leaving Illinois because of the way our 'leaders' have governed. ENOUGH!"
Here are a few more snippets that have caught our eyes in the first half year. I hasten to add, we collect far more letters than we end up republishing, so don't read too much into the early selections.
Speaking of the state budget impasse, here's a tongue-in-cheek suggestion:
"You want to balance the state budget? Ticket speeders on the tollway construction zones who laugh at the 'Speed Limit Enforced by Camera' signs. Illinois will be in the black in a week."
As you'd expect, Donald Trump's candidacy has drawn a few words. Here's a portion of one that explains his popularity:
"Sometimes the guy you want beside you in combat is not the same guy you want to have a beer with. Some voters may not want to have a beer with Mr. Trump but in combat he seems the right choice. Voters feel that they are at war with 1) the political establishment, 2) the wealthy elite, 3) and the mainstream media."
This Trumpletter, written in February, is especially interesting in retrospect:
"As a Republican I can't recall a time when the party presented such a great choice of attractive, qualified candidates. All have good communication skills and resumes of impressive accomplishment. Excepting Donald Trump, they all seem to possess the right temperament to lead our country."
And, a perhaps unexpected voice of support for a local school tax increase:
"I'm a 77- year-old widow on a fixed income. Obviously, I do not currently have children in the public schools. I do, however, live in a world in which it is to everyone's advantage to have an educated, thinking, and informed public. For most of us, learning about life beyond home and church began in school."
There are many, many more examples, of course, and it's not too late to add a gem to our save pile.
Just be mindful of the ground rules: A 300-word maximum; no profanity or personal attacks, particularly on other writers; letters may be edited; include your name, hometown and phone number (the latter for verification only). We limit writers to publication of one letter per month.
Otherwise, take thy pen or PC in hand, and let 'er rip.