Letters: Riis, Kosciuszko National Memorial

Listeners respond to a look at the late-19th century social reformer Jacob Riis and about the report on the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Now, a look at some of your responses to Monday's show. Our broadcast last night brought in some complaints and sparked a memory from decades back. First, the memory.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

It comes from a listener in Blacksburg, Virginia. My story about the late 19th-century social reformer Jacob Riis reminded Morton Adler(ph) of his teenage years in the 1930s. He writes: Jacob Riis Park, at the end of Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, was a population beach destination. We had no idea who Jacob Riis was, nor did we care. How wrong we were, as your segment showed.

One time, he continued, with a friend we were eating at the pavilion at the park, and when they played a recording of "The Star Spangled Banner," we refused to stand up in protest against social injustice in our nation. We withstood the glares of people at neighboring tables. And after the recording stopped, an attendant asked us to leave, which we did.

NORRIS: The complaints we've received focus primarily on Robert Smith's report on what the National Park Service Web site considers the nation's smallest national park.

Listener Tim Royal(ph) of Phoenix takes issue with that definition of park. He says the park service oversees many things and places often called parks which are not parks. They include lakeshores, seashores, historic sites, historical markers and more.

SIEGEL: Thomas Sienkiewicz of Monmouth, Illinois, was one of several listener who asked for an apology from our reporter for what he called the cavalier way in which he reported on the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial. In particular, Sienkiewicz did not appreciate our jokes about pronouncing the name of the place.

ROBERT SMITH: The name may actually be longer than the actual park. It's the Thaddeus…

Unidentified Man: Kosciuszko National Memorial.

SMITH: …Kosciuszko - Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial.

Unidentified Man: Yes.

SIEGEL: Sienkiewicz writes: No one with a pedestrian name like Smith can really appreciate the joys and challenges of bearing a name like Kosciuszko, but I would've expected more sensitivity from an NPR reporters. Thomas Sienkiewicz went on to explain in an email exchange that he does not use the traditional Polish pronunciation of his name. A famous Polish novelist from the turn of the 20th century shares our listeners last name, but pronounces it Sienkiewicz, Henryk Sienkiewicz.

SIEGEL: Let us know how we're doing, and keep sending us your comments. Visit our Web site, npr.org, and click on Contact Us. And don't forget, we want to know where you're from and how you or your most-famous namesakes pronounce your name.

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