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The interior of the Chapel at the Air Force Academy.

Fine example of modernist architecture

Re: “The Shrine on the Hill”, Bill Sulzman, Aug. 13. It is unfortunate vehement support of “separation of church and state” blinds people to the real reasons the Cadet Chapel is being repaired.

Research shows that, as part of the cadet area, the chapel was named a national landmark in 2004. Not because it was a place of worship, but because the chapel was — and remains — one of the finest examples of modernist architecture in the country.

At 150 feet tall, its 17 spires contain thousands of tubular tetrahedrons utilizing extruded aluminum, pre-cast masonry, and over 24,000 amber, laminated and stained glass panels. Like any other national landmark, the chapel requires maintenance. Even if not a registered landmark, the 53-year old, award-winning attraction would still be a Departmrnt of Defense building requisitioning tax dollars for repairs.

And the academy is not alone. West Point and Annapolis also have significant architecture on their grounds, with their chapels receiving national landmark status in 1960 and 1961 respectively. Like AFA, those institutions are also struggling to repair aging, historic buildings because of maintenance backlogs.

LETTERS: Why are taxpayers footing the bill for Air Force Academy shrine?

In numbers of visitors and tourist dollars spent, the Cadet Chapel is Colorado’s No. 1 man-made tourist attraction, generating revenue for this city and income for its residents. Research shows the visitor count is its highest at midday, not to see the chapel, but to view the cadet formation.

The new tourist center will continue to support this city and its visitors by housing functions from the current center, as well as support the base in its force protection measures, relieve road congestion in cadet areas, and keep tourists in designated areas.

Regardless of your views, respect and support national landmarks — all of them — for the reason they were made such.

Retired Maj. Alison Slucas, Air Force

Colorado Springs

Chapel not the only AFA attraction

Au contraire, Bill Sulzman, “The Shrine on the hill” is not the only example of human excellence that has captured the attention and imagination of thousands of visitors annually at the Air Force Academy.

You declare, “There is nothing else to see there.”

I don’t know when you last made a visit to one of Colorado Springs community’s brightest stars, but I just returned from a three-day visit of the complex and still didn’t experience all this base has to offer.

There are hiking trails, horse-back riding trails, historical museums — and, the recently reopened planetarium, which offers presentations Monday through Friday, twice daily. All of them are open to the public

Since its reopening in March, the planetarium has managed over 20,000 visitors — free of charge!

The planetarium’s renovation was 100% funded by alumni of the Air Force Academy. School groups are invited to visit this tribute to the stars and planets; their learning is guided by qualified astronomers. Try it. You’ll like it!

Patty DesRochers

Colorado Springs

Bear hysteria in the news

I wholeheartedly agree with every word in Lisa Jenks’ excellent letter (“Bears being bears”, Aug. 13).

I think she stopped short, however, by not pointing out the sheer idiocy of the Division of Wildlife’s response to this young man’s ludicrous story of an “aggressive” bear. Bears become aggressive when they feel threatened, either in the name of protecting cubs or when they become cornered. The aggression in this case appears to have been carried out by the man’s dogs, as Jenks astutely noted.

So, in response, the Division of Wildlife vows to hunt down the bear and kill it. It will use traps “for several days,” according to The Gazette article. Really? And how many unaggressive bears will that victimize, let alone other wildlife?

After all, that area is teeming with bears. And how in the world will they know, having trapped a bear, if they got the right one? Oh, I know! Let’s put together a whole lineup of bears and see if the poor “victim” can pick the perpetrator out! Again — really?

It seems to me that bear hysteria has been in the news this summer more than any year I can recall. I’ll say this: my backyard wildlife camera captures bears going through my yard with great frequency, and we have never had cause for concern over their presence. They are our neighbors, and we relish them.

Thank you, Ms. Jenks, for your thoughtful depiction of a sad situation and its ridiculous response by the Division of Wildlife.

Scott Leonard

Colorado Springs

Roll up your sleeves

You wonderful young adults who have reached your 18th birthday, please consider this as important as getting your learner’s permit:

Go down and register to vote if you are a citizen of Colorado. Thousands of people have fought, and many have died for that right. Get informed and educated on the controversial subjects of today.

As the great parliamentarian Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” That was in the 1700s. Today we have many ‘good women’ and young people who are or can be registered voters.

If you are not one of the “Gimme, Gimme everything free” generation you can make an important difference.

Please! Colorado is counting on you. Look for the petitions. Talk to your friends. Next year we will reelect, or elect a new president. Roll up your sleeves and show what you can do.

Evelyn French

Black Forest

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