Dix Park deserves national monument

It may be that only by creation of a National Monument that historic preservation can be included in the plans for the future of the former Dix hospital’s campus (“Using the Right Tools,” Jan. 14).

We have created a petition to the federal government and the President of the United States to honor the life and legacy of Dorothea Dix. We are requesting the creation of a National Monument in her honor on the site of the former Dix Hospital, which she was largely responsible for founding.

Because of the need to protect the historic McBryde Building and the patients’ cemetery with more than 900 graves, there is a special need for intervention before the state and the city allow the destruction of these important parts of the Dix campus.

The City of Raleigh used part of the campusnow soccer fieldsfor a waste dump. Garbage trucks rolled over the gravesites in the cemetery for years. We need to end this kind of disrespect for those buried in the cemetery. We can start by including the protection of the cemetery in talks between the state and the City of Raleigh.

Martha C. Brock, Cary
Bonnie Jo Schell, Asheville

The reality of being a sniper

Neil Morris brings to light an important conversation that needs to take place within American society in his review of American Sniper (“Flesh Wound,” Jan. 14.) However, his comments, represented on Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms, analyze only the “bad” versus “good” notion of snipers’ actions and beliefs. What is absent in the conversation is a discussion of what is offered and expected in our training and employment and what is gained from it.

As a Marine Scout/Sniper, yes we used scoped rifles. But the food and sleep deprivation, isolation and immobility, and seemingly impossible and unbearable situations we were subjected to were all aimed at merging intrepidity with an open mind so that we could think outside the box in order to make the best decisions absent of leadership and guidance.

This meant that instead of strapping on “cool-guy” gear and rifles, flying in on helos with 20 other bulked up bad-asses, and killing all the brown people, sometimes you went on a hunter-killer mission and ended up going slick (no gear), stuffing a pistol down your pants, sitting in the dirt with your spotter, and speaking Arabic with an Iraqi family mutilated by collateral damage while you helped them pick sunflower seeds to sell at the market.

And, instead of not giving a flying f^*% about the Iraqi savages and killing them all, you listened, learned and helped. Because a year earlier, you saw the smiles and waves turn into scowls and I.E.D’s. So, instead of creating 1,000 new insurgents by killing five savages, you killed 1,000 insurgents by creating five friends.

Being a sniper didn’t teach me how to kill. It taught me how to be a diplomat, community leader, grant writer, advocate, 100-mile race runner, White House Champion of Change who gives a flying f%$#.

Matt Victoriano, Durham

The writer served in the Iraq War.