- Weston was also upset by crosses that Reza had placed on his lawn, along with a placard listing the U.S. death toll and the question “How many more?” Reza later removed the sign and crosses when asked to do so by his homeowners association. Weston’s mother, Patti Redding, and Christine Rosso, who has a brother in the military, both live near Reza and have asked him to remove the flags. I agreed with them and wrote that while we don’t have to respect the decisions of the political leaders who got us into this war, we should respect the wishes of the families and men and women carrying out those decisions. I also asked readers for their opinions about Reza’s actions and received dozens of e-mails and calls. Here is a sampling of the responses: “I totally disagree with your comments,” wrote Steve Block. “He has every right to protest the war as long as he is not doing it illegally. More statements are needed to express the dissatisfaction with this unnecessary war.” As I expected, a lot of readers reacted to Sunday’s column about a Newhall man who has erected more than 250 American flags on his front lawn to protest the Iraq war and honor the troops who have died. Alex Reza, a 67-year-old retired schoolteacher who served in the Army during the Vietnam War era, said he hoped his display would spark a dialogue and move the war “from the back of people’s minds to the front.” It has done just that. Many readers who responded encouraged him to keep the display. Others sided with Army Maj. Jeff Weston, who wrote Reza from Afghanistan in February, asking him to remove the flags. Weston felt the flags were being used as a political statement rather than as a memorial to his fallen comrades. Irene Galvan wrote that she and her husband believe Reza is simply `trying to keep the war effort fresh in the minds of citizens who may forget the deadly consequences of our involvement in Iraq.” “We think it is his right to exercise freedom of speech, which is the very right our military is fighting to preserve,” she wrote. “Your article is very one-sided.” Donna Lee-Stevens wrote that she wished Reza had more yard space so he could erect a flag for every soldier who has died in Iraq. “It is with great respect that I must disagree with Army Maj. Jeff Weston,” she wrote. “Mr. Reza was given the right under our Bill of Rights: First Amendment. It is the freedom of speech. It matters not whether he is making a political statement; it is his right to do so.” But Larry Cummings had this to say: “I became very angry and upset when first reading your article, but as I began to write this I realized that this was not a personal thing between Mr. Reza and me. “It’s about the freedoms we have in this country and why brave men and women volunteer to protect our freedoms. Mr. Reza has every right to have this `memorial’ in his front yard. “He must understand, though, that his politics are not his neighbors’ or my politics, but his alone. To force his politics on his neighbors is not appropriate to the rights of others. Appreciate the fact that there are those who would die for your life and freedoms.” Bonnie Pearson of Sunland wrote, “Please, Mr. Reza, as a mom of a son in the Navy, I am asking you to honor the request of Maj. Weston and take down the flags. Please show compassion to your neighbors who have family over there.” And from Nadine Winningham: “Does he honestly think that no one thinks about the war? Of course our soldiers’ deaths can’t be justified. No death in any kind of battle can be justified, but sadly that’s the harsh reality of war. “The men and women who have died protecting our country, died protecting our freedoms, absolutely deserve the utmost respect. They do not deserve to be used to make a political statement.” There were dozens of additional e-mails and phone calls voicing similar opinions – and dozens more saying Reza had every right to keep his flags up. “We do live in a free and democratic society that allows us to voice ourselves, unpopular as it may be on various issues,” wrote Bernardo Rubalcova. “More of us should have the intestinal fortitude of what Reza is doing.” And finally this from Jerry Pennington in Van Nuys: “My son has had two deployments in Iraq and is going back for a third. “When I asked him about Mr. Reza’s flags, he told me, `Everyone grieves in their own way, and everyone has the right to show their feelings for my fallen friends.”‘ The dialogue you wanted has begun, Mr. Reza. Dennis McCarthy’s column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. [email protected] (818) 713-3749160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
1 Jack Wilshere Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere has reportedly suffered a setback in his recovery from an ankle injury and may not return to action until March.The midfielder sustained ankle ligament damage after a tackle by Manchester United defender Paddy McNair on November 22.Gunners boss Arsene Wenger had hoped Wilshere would return by the end of January after he underwent a successful operation.But, according to media reports, the 22-year-old has now been told he is likely to be out for five months in total.That would be a devastating blow for the player and Wenger, who is under increasing pressure at the Emirates, with a 3-2 defeat at Stoke at the weekend leaving his side 13 points adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea.