Readers sound off about their fashion budgets and the Henry Louis Gates Jr. arrest, and tell how they coped with the news that a son had enlisted.

September 20, 2009

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Budget Blues You have got to be kidding -- jeans for $155 and more (“My Blue Heaven,” August 23)? I find it hard to believe that paying that much is suddenly going to make someone look taller or thinner or make their hips look less wide. How about an article on jeans with more realistic prices?

Nancy O’Connell / Amherst, New Hampshire

Laying Blame I read Charles P. Pierce’s column about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. (“Denial, Continued,” August 23) and find myself scratching my head once again over this story. Why, in this particular incident, can’t there be blame on both sides of the confrontation? Both men allowed this confrontation to escalate way out of control and both are to blame for the aftermath.

Jim Siteman / Walpole

Oh, but it is about race. When you have a belligerent, arrogant academic who resorts to ghetto talk to deflect the onus off himself and who loudly accuses the officer who is trying to get him to calm down of racial profiling and prejudice, it is about race. It should never have been, but Gates made sure it was.

Francine Mello / Tewksbury

Pierce claims these “nonracial” incidents are adding up, and takes the interesting tactic of mentioning Rodney King, which was all of 18 years ago. That equates to “adding up”? Must be Pierce math. The ridiculously over-publicized incident involving Mr. Gates and Officer Crowley had nothing to do with race, and saying it does contributes to the media-perpetuated fallacy. If Pierce is trying to seem empathetic for “the cause,” it comes off as haughty and ruinous.

Christine Lyons / Reading

Fit To Be Tied I enjoyed “The Complete Package” (Fashion Snapshot, August 23) about how more men are wearing bow ties. As someone who sports one now and then, I’d like to note another advantage: It doesn’t get in your food! The prices quoted for shirts and ties are silly, though. How about showing good style at an everyman budget?

Louis King / Marlborough

Sons in the Service Thank you for printing “Military Man” (Parenting Traps, August 23). Our son made a similar decision. After his first year of law school, he was accepted as a JAG (Judge Advocate General) in the Marine Corps. He graduated this spring and is now on active duty at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. No one in our family saw this decision coming. None of us have military backgrounds or leanings. When friends question his decision, I answer: “We have always raised him to think for himself, and he enjoys what he is doing. It is where he wants to be.” In my era “draft” was an ugly word. All the young men and women in today’s service are there because they choose to be. These days our front door proudly displays a yellow ribbon and our car a Marine sticker.

Sharon Brecher / Waban

Starting in the third grade, my son declared he hated school and was going to enlist in the Army as soon as he could. I’d smile and say, “That’s a wonderful idea, honey, but school will get better,” always assuming it would. As his high school graduation approached, I took him for placement testing at a local community college, and he, bless his heart, went along with my charade. But he took his father aside and explained his intentions. When I finally sat down and listened, it turned out he knew himself better than we gave him credit for. Mark left for basic training a month ago. I miss him more than I can say, but I’m also more proud of him than I can say. Thank God that he and Mark Pothier’s son are willing to make the sacrifice needed to defend our way of life. I wish them and their brothers in arms godspeed.

Julie DeWaele / Hopkinton

My son has also chosen a military career, via the ROTC program at his university. Any family with a member in the armed forces worries about their loved one’s safety. What exacerbates my fear is the age at which the commitment is made. It has been widely established that the ability to make reasonable judgments doesn’t fully mature until the mid-20s. While I admire the drive and focus it takes to join the military, I don’t think my son can fully comprehend the ramifications of his eight- to 12-year obligation. I’m grateful for his willingness to serve his country, but saddened by the doors he’s closed without having had a chance to see what lies behind them.

Lisa Gery / Marblehead

Our oldest son, Connor, joined the Marines when he was 18. All his friends were making plans for college but even as a little boy, he knew what he wanted, and though we didn’t like it, we supported him. We’re so proud but scared at the same time. He was home for two weeks this summer and he is mature, respectful, and never brags, but you can tell he’s proud of what he has accomplished.

Mary Griffin / Billerica

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