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From Our Listeners


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Scott Simon reads from the listener e-mail bag.


Time now for your letters.

(Soundbite of typing; music)

SIMON: Two weeks ago we interviewed novelist Frederick Busch and his son, US Marine Major Benjamin Busch. Major Busch has served two tours in Iraq and his father described the anxiety of having a child at war and the difficulty of waiting between phone calls.

Patrick Nugent(ph) of Cambridge, Maryland, `My wife and I worried about our son who was deployed with the 2nd Armored Cavalry regiment in Iraq for 15 months. Your interview brought to light one of the immediate costs of this occupation too little considered: the effect on families. Major Busch noted more than 2,000 military killed. He didn't mention their 4,000 parents who do not have the luxury of worrying about their sons or daughters anymore; they can only mourn. There are 8,000 mourning grandparents. That doesn't even address the 30,000 parents of maimed soldiers and their 60,000 grandparents or how many children who will grow up with a wounded mom or dad. It's time we all begin to count the total costs of this war, including the permanent cost to families.'

Last week our ambassador to the world of children's literature, Daniel Pinkwater, and I read Jacqueline Ogburn's tale "The Bake Shop Ghost." Cathy Paskis(ph) of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, writes, `I love being read to and I love children's books. Even for adults, they often hold a gentle lesson. For me, "Bake Shop Ghost" is one such book. Along with the ghost, I was brought to tears thinking that it's never too late to mend life's losses. We can always do what others could not do or ask, whether it is a birthday cake or an expression of love.'

Our editor, Gwendolyn Thompkins, filed a story for us last week about her hometown of New Orleans and we got many warm letters about her story. Sharon Pauley(ph) from Atlanta writes, `As another former New Orleanian, I took my parents home two months after Katrina. How could I explain why a man in a wheelchair carrying debris to the pile in front of his house and signs announcing live music being played again were important parts of the experience of the new New Orleans for me. I couldn't do it, but Gwendolyn did with key insight from her father and good application of the survival manual. Thanks, NPR, for keeping New Orleans alive in the minds of those who will decide the future of the levees and with it that of so many decent, life-loving people.'

And Stephen Forbis(ph) from New York heard Gwyn's piece and wrote just one word. `Wow.'

We look forward to your letters. To write us, you can come to and click on Contact Us. And please tell us where you live and how to say your name.

(Soundbite of song)

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) Will the band be playing?

Chorus: At the foot of Canal Street.

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) What will the people be seeing?

Chorus: At the foot of Canal of Street.

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) Does your father lie there, does your mother pray? I'm going to lay all my burdens down...

Chorus: Ohhh.

Unidentified Woman: I'm going to put on my golden crown. I'll be moving up to higher ground at the foot of Canal Street.

SIMON: And it's 22 minutes before the hour.

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