Letters: Prison at Guantanamo, Memorial Day

Listeners comment on Guantanamo Bay, reflect on Memorial Day and compile a summer reading list.

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NEAL CONAN, host:

It's Tuesday, the day we read from your e-mails.

We observed Memorial Day yesterday with a conversation about loss, remembrance, and ritual in the military. It was a look at the men and women assigned to what's called Casualty Notification Duty - telling the next of kin about the death of a service member.

Marsha Boynton(ph), a listener in Michigan, appreciated the reminder of what Memorial Day is supposed to be all about.

"I have no family affiliated with the armed forces," she wrote, "but I wept from start to finish as this program was broadcast. On this Memorial Day, thank you for reminding us all of the losses and the profound services families receive in the wake of those losses. We all need to remember."

Last week we talked about a United Nations committee called to shut down the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba. The debate, both for and against the prison, did not sit well with Anna(ph), a listener in Flint, Michigan.

"The prison in Guantanamo Bay makes me sick," she wrote. "One of the tenets this country was established on was the rule of law; the due process that anyone accused of a crime was entitled to. The fact that people disappear into this prison with just the government's say-so that this person is a terrorist scares me. The trial of the 20th 9/11 bomber shows that these people can be tried in the U.S. court of law, and these enemy combatants should be brought to trial in U.S. courts with the transparency that these people, and U.S. people, deserve."

Richard Erlacher(ph), from Denver, disagrees.

"The notion that unlawful combatants should be either released to the return to the conflict or tried in civilian courts is nonsense," he writes. "These are people who voluntarily took up arms under their own free will and, under currently existing law, deserve and rightly should be executed as unlawful combatants."

We also talked last week about a new tool to track housing prices and allow futures trading in the residential housing market. During the conversation, one of our callers got a little heated with his language. David Geddes(ph), from San Francisco, complained.

"The rather articulate and impassioned caller named Mike(ph) deserved better treatment today than to be scolded and told to cool it. I thought TALK OF THE NATION was supposed to be a program by and for adults. His language may not be appropriate for Sesame Street, but in the context of your program, it is not the equivalent of a wardrobe malfunction."

Sherry Damon(ph), from Mount Olive in North Carolina, also heard that part of he show and said:

"I was pleasantly surprised to hear a third millennium mass media personality tell a listener, whose mouth was getting too salty, quote, 'your language. Cool it.' Because of your gentle but firm rebuke, a little of my confidence in the personal mores of at least one of today's mass media personalities has been restored."

Yesterday, we took our annual look at what books might make for good summer reading. We spoke with critics, experts, and a lot of listeners about what pages they're turning. We also saw a lot of e-mails with listener picks.

Sarah Ryan(ph) e-mailed us from Arizona.

"Long-time favorites should not be ignored," she says. "If one has not discovered Deborah Crombie, those come highly recommended. And all of Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series were new to me this past year and have provided hours of distraction and reflection."

Theresa Halliday(ph) also caught the summer reading show, but she missed one of the titles.

"Please repeat the name of the historical novel about West Point and Edgar Allen Poe. I missed the name of he book and the author." Well, it was a book recommended by Laura Miller, the book critic for Salon. It's called, The Pale Blue Eye, and it's written by Louis Bayard.

If you missed any of the books we talked about yesterday or what to see our critics' recommendations, you can visit our website. We've posted the critics' picks and listeners' suggestions as well on everything from biographies to fantasy and mystery to history, at the TALK OF THE NATION page at npr.org.

If you have any other comments, questions, or corrections for us, the best way to reach us is by e-mail. The address is talk@npr.org. Please let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name.

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