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Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 12:01 am

Letters to the Editor 2/27/14




In 1832, our own Mr. Lincoln called education “the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.” Mr. Lincoln’s words have never been timelier. Quality of education, and the degree to which children are taught to love learning and to pursue it throughout their lives, is the most critical pursuit of our generation.

I wholeheartedly support Invest in 186. Americans always bet on the future, and I want my stepkids (and their kids!) to inherit a vibrant and prosperous Springfield they’ll be proud to call home. The drastic cuts we have permitted to our school system in the name of austerity declare that we seem satisfied with merely treasuring the memory of a place that was once lovely and vital, but that we let slip away because we refused to invest in its future.

No farmer in their right mind would be surprised by empty fields in the fall if they failed to plant in the spring, and yet the workforce we need for tomorrow – the citizens we will need as workers and voters and parents tomorrow – sit in overcrowded, underfunded classrooms today: classrooms where budgets have been slashed so drastically that it is impossible for us to meet the competitive demands of the 21st century.

Don’t get me wrong: my kids’ teachers are terrific, and their school administrators and support staff are amazing. But it is past time to stop asking these good people, year after year, to continue doing more with less. Our future Lincolns are on the playground today. They are struggling with fractions and flutes and the mysteries of photosynthesis today. All they ask of us is that we take their futures seriously enough to invest in them adequately, and to remember that if we fail to plant and nurture today, we have no right to expect an abundant harvest tomorrow.

Bill McMahon


I write to ask your help with a book I’m writing about Springfieldian John Thornton Walker, a Springfield High graduate who flew artillery spotter planes as personal pilot for General Mark Clark in Africa and Italy. The daughter of Walker helped with my Arcadia Publishing book Springfield Aviation, donated photos, press clippings and a brass plaque that was, for many years displayed on an obelisk at the U.S. Army airfield in Virginia named after him. What I need and do not have are memoirs of local citizens who knew him in high school and during the years he lived in Springfield before going off to war and never coming back.

Walker was interred in a cemetery in Italy before his remains were returned to the U.S. after the war and buried in his wife Geraldine’s home cemetery in Washington, Ind. I think it’s sad that he did not return to the city of Springfield where he was a rising star in the local aviation community. That is why I am writing the book.

I seek to meet or converse over the phone with anyone who remembers John Thornton Walker. Pictures and other memorabilia of Springfield from 1931 to 1942 are also needed. Loaned materials will be handled carefully, scanned and promptly returned. I may be contacted via my home phone, 217-544-62704; AeroKnow Museum, 900 Airport Drive, Springfield, IL 62704 or writer@eosinc.com.

Job Conger

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