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Editorial Roundup: Recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers

August 28, 2018

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:

Tulsa World. Aug. 25, 2018.

— Violent people and weather are a concern for students, parents

Local school districts are moving ahead prudently to make campuses safer for students.

Tulsa World reporter Samuel Hardiman has reported on how Tulsa, Broken Arrow and Jenks schools are addressing the potential for school shootings with more security, improved entrances and other strategies.

Twenty-three Tulsa school sites started the school year with new secure entrances. Ten more will be completed by fall. Broken Arrow has added two full-time resource officers this year. In Jenks, doors have been altered so anyone entering a school has to interact with someone before getting near students.

Meanwhile, several rural Oklahoma districts are working to arm teachers. That’s a strategy that might make sense for some isolated sites, but we don’t encourage it broadly and insist that it comes with proper training and vetting. It would be tragic if a well-meaning effort to make a school safer led to a tragedy because an ill-trained or ill-selected person was allowed to carry a weapon.

In their drive for security, schools must balance many issues, including costs, the impact greater security can have on the educational atmosphere and the relative threats posed by different hazards.

In Oklahoma, violent weather is far more likely to take a student’s life than an unhinged shooter, and local school districts also are addressing that safety issue gradually as they deal with other bond issue-funded projects.

Tulsa’s Kerr Elementary, for example, got a storm shelter last year, a project that was included in an eight-classroom addition. Four of the classrooms are also storm shelters. That’s smart planning that deals with safety and educational needs.

Of course, the school system’s first duty is to provide a safe environment where students can learn. The threats of violent weather and violent people are legitimate concerns that must be addressed with judicious speed.

___

The Oklahoman. Aug. 28, 2018.

— Country loses an honorable man in McCain

Two things stood out to us regarding the death of U.S. Sen. John McCain — the kind words offered by many longtime political opponents, and the recounting of his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. They underscored McCain’s honorableness, something seemingly lacking in so many Washington politicians today.

That trait was evident in a video clip making the rounds online over the weekend. It showed McCain, at a campaign event during his unsuccessful run for the presidency in 2008, twice rejecting audience members’ criticism of his opponent, Barack Obama.

“He is a decent person, and a person you don’t have to be scared (about) as president of the United States,” McCain said in the first case. In the second instance, McCain called Obama “a decent family man . that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. And that’s what this campaign is all about.”

How likely are we to hear anything similar from any presidential candidate in today’s uber-partisan climate?

Obama was among those who noted their appreciation for McCain the man. He said few people have been asked to show the kind of courage McCain did during the war, “but all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At John’s best, he showed us what that means.”

Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden, who served many years with McCain in the Senate, used words like “character” and “integrity” to describe his former political opponent. “A life lived embodying those truths casts a long shadow. John McCain will cast a long shadow,” Biden said.

We believe those traits derived from a deep and abiding love of country, which were forged as the son of a four-star Navy admiral and shone through during his time as a POW.

McCain’s jet was shot down over Hanoi in October 1967. He ejected and landed in a lake, breaking one leg and both arms. He suffered countless beatings at the hands of the North Vietnamese and eventually was transferred to the notorious “Hanoi Hilton” prison where he spent five years.

During that time, he was tortured repeatedly and did long stints in solitary confinement. His stay could have been shortened, had he allowed the North Vietnamese to free him in mid-1968 after his father was made commander in chief of U.S. forces in the Pacific.

But it was a propaganda move, and he refused, insisting that every American POW captured before him be freed before he would go. His freedom didn’t come until March 1973 following a ceasefire agreement.

McCain said in an interview years later that three things kept him going while in Vietnam: “Faith in God, faith in my fellow prisoners and faith in my country.”

As a U.S. senator, he earned a reputation as a champion of defense and someone who was willing to work with the other side to make America better. We salute the man for his lifetime of service. The country has lost something in short supply these days — a true statesman and patriot.

___

Muskogee Phoenix. Aug. 28, 2018.

— Take care this holiday

Another three-day holiday weekend is fast approaching — the unofficial end of summer.

With it comes another opportunity to visit family and friends and to have a good time.

That’s where we must interject and remind everyone that a good time does not have to end tragically.

There’s a reason that media and government officials keep close track of the number of fatality accidents that occur around holidays — the numbers increase.

We are all for having a good time when you are at the lake, or at a cookout or just hanging out with family or friends at home.

We’re not naive enough to believe that alcohol won’t be present over the weekend at these gatherings.

We just wish that precautions would be taken to ensure everyone gets through the week safely.

If that means staying overnight — then plan ahead to be able to do that.

If that means to ensure you have a cab ride available — plan ahead.

If that means ensuring there is a designated driver — plan ahead.

Remember that law enforcement usually comes out in force to try to keep drunk drivers off the roads.

Think about that.

At best if you drink and drive you could wind up in jail and spending a lot of money to pay subsequent fines.

At worst, your friends and family will be attending another kind of gathering — one where you will be the center of attention. But you won’t be there to enjoy it.

Holidays are made to make memories — happy times we will recall forever.

Don’t make this year a tragedy.

Please drink responsibly.

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