Each year for the past 16, I have found that the Johnstown Symphony Opera Gala, the orchestra’s largest yearly fund-raiser, was better than any preceding year.

This year was no exception. In fact, it exceeded all previous years’ events even more than I had anticipated.

What is not obvious to the many who attended this year is the tremendous amount of planning that is necessary to successfully present a production of this scope. Therefore, I would like to publicly thank the attendees, the chairmen, the sponsors, those who contributed the intermission food and beverages, those who attended the post-concert reception, and the volunteers including the Johnstown Symphony Auxiliary, whose members devoted many hours of thought and preparation in making it possible.

Maestro Istvan Jaray’s program planning, including his selection of the four soloists, and his always-skillful direction of the orchestra, as well as the Johnstown Symphony Chorus, under the direction of Sam Coco, were seamlessly coordinated. It created an almost magical, musical event that continues the tradition of the JSO, which has made Johnstown a cultural attraction for newcomers to our area.

Thus, it benefits us to continue to support this outstanding exposition of the arts.

The symphony orchestra needs your support. You may call the JSO office at 535-6738 or e-mail info@johnstownsymphony.org.

The JSO auxiliary is always looking for volunteers to help support our efforts.

Charlotte Aubrey

President, Johnstown Symphony Auxiliary

Don’t be so quick to criticize cats, owners

In response to the Readers’ Forum letter from Angela Lambing on Sept. 23 (“Why do cats deserve special treatment?”):

My husband and I are cat owners and we walk our two cats. My husband trained them to walk right with him. I know this may sound silly, but they are safe from outside dangers. They are being watched so they don’t hurt anyone’s property and, for health reasons, so they cannot catch any on-going diseases.

So there are many good and reasonable cat owners; I know of a lot of them. It is the ones who just don’t care who give cats a bad reputation.

Renee Hale


Avoid companies that use animals in testing

Most consumers probably don’t realize that many companies use poor, defenseless animals in their testing. Cruelty-free products are not all that hard to find.

So please make animal-friendly decisions. Your positive choices can help save lives and put an end to the torture of these innocent beings.

Call People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals at (757) 622-7382 for a free caring-consumer catalog.

Kim Gleason


Neither political party cares about abortion

It totally escapes me why Christian people repeatedly can be duped by politicians into believing platforms that are never realized. It is long past time that, if we are going to promote a certain party, we hold its leaders to the fire when we elect them.

I do not believe any of our parties care about abortion. Yet most of our religious leaders and teachers promote the Republican Party as if supporting it is part of the criteria to enter heaven.

How many people realize Roe v. Wade was passed during the Nixon administration, and that the majority of Supreme Court justices were GOP appointees? Or that seven of the current nine are also Republican appointees (reference Oyez project Roe v. Wade at www.oyez.org/cases)?

From the start of Nixon’s term until the present, we have had 28 years of Republican leadership and only 12 of Democrat. This is not to mention that during the first six years of this administration, a Republican president enjoyed a GOP House and Senate. How much time do they need?

If one examines the results of the moral majority movement, you would find it accomplished little more than to become a perceived appendage of the Republican Party.

We should be promoting the gospel of Jesus Christ absent the allures of either party. If I or a member of my family were in an emergency situation, I would care more about the ambulance driver knowing the way to the hospital than where he stands on one issue. That should be our attitude when we vote.

Those who listen to political rhetoric should be more than disappointed and remember there is only one source of genuine power and truth, and it does not lie in a political party.

William L. Tremba


Comments about McCain capture disgraceful

In response to “McCain won’t get votes from workers” by Nick Brisini on Sept. 30:

Though I do not agree with many of John McCain’s political positions, I respect the man and his service to this nation. To say he got what he deserved by being a prisoner during the Vietnam War is a disgrace.

No one deserves to have to endure what McCain did. He, like others of us who served during that war, followed orders like pawns.

He did not choose his targets, but followed orders from a higher command.

Instead of condemning the pawns in the scheme of war, one should look to hold accountable those at the top of the command.

Today, as during the Vietnam era, those at the top lie to achieve their political goals. And, yes, the pawns continue to follow orders, for without their blind faith and sacrifice to protect this nation, it would surely fall.

Joseph Selak


Veteran’s letter on candidate shocking

There was a letter to the editor from a well-known Hastings man that shocked me, and that is difficult to do (Sept. 30, “McCain won’t get votes from workers”).

Part of the letter said, “(McCain) became a prisoner of war. But what did he expect? Should the Vietnamese have placed him in a country club, where he could have played golf, swum, drunk beer and frolicked with Vietnamese women? I do not think so. He got just what he deserved, in my opinion.”

I don’t believe any Vietnam veteran deserved what McCain got – five torturous years in prison.

My one son served in Vietnam and one served in Beirut, and these kinds of statements are scary and hurtful. Mine is not a political letter, it’s a mother letter.

In any case, I did plan to vote for McCain. However, after the events of the past two weeks, I just might vote for Ralph Nader, or neither candidate, so I can blame everyone who voted for all the mess the next president makes.

We are living in scary times and statements that a POW got what he deserved do not help. I’ll be surprised if some Vietnam veterans don’t respond to the writer.

I do believe the writer served in the military. He has the right to say this because of being a veteran.

Margie Weyandt


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