Your Letters: Military Suicides; Michael Caine

We received many notes after host Scott Simon's conversation last week with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and his wife, Deborah, about their efforts to address military suicides. Also, your reaction to Sir Michael Caine's stories as recounted in his book, The Elephant to Hollywood.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Time now for Your Letters.

Many notes after our conversation last week with Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen; his wife, Deborah, about their efforts to address military suicides.

Ray Tucker writes on our website: This is an important story, and critical to the health of our nation. We cannot forget the responsibility we have to our service members and veterans.

SScott Knowles from Gig Harbor, Washington, says he is, quote, astounded at the military's reluctance to address the issue of suicide by service members, since the returning Vietnam veterans decades ago, quote, showed them the size and scope of the problem with PTSD and other mental issues.

Sir Michael Caine joined us a couple weeks ago to talk about his life, as recounted in his new book, "The Elephant to Hollywood." He told us about the origins of the name of his Cockney neighborhood and the local pub - the Elephant and Castle.

Mr. MICHAEL CAINE (Actor): The pub, actually, when it was opened a couple hundred years ago, was named after a mistress of King Charles II - a Spanish mistress. Her name was the Infanta de Castille. And when they opened the pub they called it the Infanta de Castille, but the Cockneys couldn't say it so it became the Elephant and Castle.

SIMON: Richard Whissen of Huntington Beach, California, writes: The pub's name actually derives from its own sign that depicts an elephant with a howdah on its back. I believe that in olden times, the howdah was called a castle, perhaps because it tended to be elaborate - and because some of them actually looked like castles. To have called the pub the Elephant and Howdah would have consternated the denizens of the district.

And Lloyd Harris, of New York, ties it all together. He writes: One of the reasons one loves NPR is the wonderful interview with Michael Caine. The other reason to love you guys is that I always assumed Samuel Barber was English.

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SIMON: We spoke about Samuel Barber with Maestro Marin Alsop of the Baltimore Symphony. Mr. Harris continues: Wow, who knew he was a Yank? Perhaps more information than you want to have. I've always considered Barber's "Adagio for Strings" to be very sexy, not sad. I was in my early 20s when I first heard it, when everything is sexy, but I digress.

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SIMON: Sad, sexy - or merely classic? We play the music; you decide. We welcome your comments. Go to npr.org, click on Contact Us. You can post a comment on any story at npr.org. We're also on Twitter. I tweet @NPRScottSimon, all one word, and the entire WEEKEND EDITION staff is @NPRWeekend.

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