Nick Berg's father offers a 'Thanks' for all the support

Your May 14 article "A Letter to Nick's Dad" is very representative of the mountains of messages we have received from people the world over via the post office, e-mail, and phone. The sheer volume of the outpouring has been overwhelming.

We read every letter, but we cannot respond to all. I am hoping you will print my letter thanking all of the people who have contacted us, and offering our condolences to all of those who have told us about loved ones they have lost due to senseless wars and other tragedies.

In the middle of the bad behavior and insensitive treatment we received from some of the press, your paper stood out as a light.
Michael S. Berg
West Chester, Pa.

Politics overshadow 9/11 investigation

Regarding your May 19 article "What went wrong in New York City on Sept. 11": The recent denigration by the 9/11 commission of police, firefighters, and other emergency workers for "mistakes" committed on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, are at best pointless, and at worst abhorrent. The 9/11 panel has become a meaningless body that has been misused as a podium for politicized showmanship.

All of the actions and events that surrounded 9/11 that can be learned from can and should be studied by experts. But honest study is not what this 9/11 panel exists for, nor is this the motive of its investigation.

There is no such thing as a human "mistake" with an event like 9/11. This was no bus accident. This was the worst and most shocking terrorist attack in history. There was no possible training for that day, no way to prepare for its events. Yet, despite this, we have learned in the years since of tremendous bravery and of police and fire department personnel whose quick actions allowed thousands of people to survive that morning.

The only significant "mistake" in this regard would be that of the American public giving credence to the 9/11 commission and its politics.
Joshua J. Carlon
Knoxville, Tenn.

SAT scores for schools, not employers

Regarding your May 18 article "Want a job? Hand over your SAT results": I was appalled that even years after high school, the SAT can still affect your life. I can't believe that this test, which kids dread throughout high school, can still come back to haunt them once again after graduation. It saddens me to think that after four years of school, one three-hour session in a classroom could have more meaning than the thousands of other days spent in class.

One test cannot determine the skills and capabilities a person might have for a given job. Even though research has shown that the SAT is a reasonably good predictor of first-year grades in college, it cannot foresee how a student might turn out years after high school and perform in a certain job.
Joni Yabut
San Jose, Calif.

Dirt floors aren't for houses

Regarding your May 18 article "A not-so-boring history of flooring" that cheerfully remarks that dirt is a good and inexpensive surface: In Guatemala, where I work with Habitat for Humanity, a dirt floor is a sign of deep poverty. Many houses here are made of scraps of cardboard, metal, plastic, or corn stalks, with outdoor kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rain turns the dirt floors into a muddy mess, where insects and other creatures have easy access. A physician once said that when families move into a house with a concrete floor, incidence of infection drops by 50 percent. With so many of the world's people living in poor, dirt-floored shacks, I take issue with the glories of living in a dwelling with such a floor.
Betty Neville Michelozzi
Aptos, Calif.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Any letter accepted will appear in print and on www.csmonitor.com .

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