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Tree vandals achieve anonymous fame and a painful legacy

The vandals who destroyed the honking tree at Two Harbors can read and hear about themselves in the media and feel proud of themselves for doing something newsworthy. [MPR News: Vandals chop down Two Harbors' 'honking tree'] Of course, they dare not share their involvement with the public for they will destroy their standing in the community and be held accountable for their shameful deed.

For the perpetrators it's a hollow achievement at best. What's more, the glory will soon fade and guilt will prevail as they have years to consider their deed and deal with the pangs of conscience.

When I was a junior at Worthington Senior High School in the late 1960's, we had a beautiful Colorado Blue Spruce growing in an enclosed patio at the center of the campus. This tree, having been planted when the school was completed in 1958, had just begun to protrude over the roof of the one-story portion of the building. Nearly surrounded by glass walls, every student there had a chance to enjoy this fine specimen every day of the school year.

Then one night, some of my classmates used a ladder to reach the roof and climb back down into the patio and chop off most of the branches leaving an ugly spruce pole with a few branches at the top and a pile of slash lying at the base. It was so painful to look at that the the administration and school board soon had it removed altogether. In a snit over this insult by the unknown vandals, they elected not to plant another tree and instead commissioned a statue of the school mascot, a Trojan, to replace the lost tree. This memorial to those vandals stands there yet.

The vandals were never caught but the names of some potential suspects were floating about the student population within days. I know some of these folks and today they are upstanding citizens and valuable members of the community.

I'm sure they had a good laugh over the prank they pulled on the school, the administration and the student body. But, somehow, I think that 40 years of occasional attacks of conscience may tarnish the sheen of the trophy they created for themselves. And, 40 years of keeping a secret from their friends and neighbors can't be worth the pleasure of a moment in the sun; a moment which they could only enjoy from their hiding place behind some tree on the periphery.

Perhaps the Two Harbors honking tree vandals will also find it so. May they never escape the little reminders of their dirty deed, well done.

Randy Lindemann
Frazee, Minn.

Gen X-er experiences a 'reality smack'

I'm a Generation X-er and for all of my 37 year's exisitance have felt invincible but such a dangerous virus arising has been quite an awakening. [MPR Midday: Dr. Michael Osterholm answers questions about the swine flu]

I am concerned by the CDC's suggestion to stay calm along with so many warnings. The uncertainty is nerve-racking. I'm responible for my five children plus the twins in my womb, I think I'll be spending a lot of time at home this spring --along with the kids. If we have to go out, we'll be washing hands like fiends and most likely only one of us will go out, leaving the other home with the kids.

Alexis Grounds
Duluth, Minn.

Smokers cost all of us

Yes, smokers should pay additional taxes. [MPR Your Voice Commentary: Stop increasing cigarette and alcohol taxes]

Health care is a huge expense for the state, and no one "burns" through health care dollars like a smoker. Don't like the truth? Too bad - those of us who don't smoke, and don't drink much, and earn less than 100K will not be affected by the tax bill. If you don't want to pay additional taxes, become a non-smoker.

Kay Goren
St. Paul, Minn.

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