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Letters to the editor of the Boston Globe Magazine

Essays on expanding national service programs and battling squirrels have readers reaching out.

SERVING THE NATION

Yes and yes again to this plea, “To Bridge Our Divides, Let’s Expand Our National Service Programs” (Perspective, July 16). No single idea can do more to restore civic engagement and civility to the national discourse than having all (and I mean no exceptions) young people serve in some capacity that supports the national good (old people, too, where they can help). In a culture increasingly segregated by ZIP code and class, we need to encourage ways to learn about others and develop meaningful patriotism.

Tama Zorn / Brookline

The volunteer military is about the only institution where men and women of various regions, religions, races, and social classes share the same mission and experiences. We have become culturally and ideologically too segregated during recent decades.

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The suggestion to expand national service for American youth was the most impressive and practical solution I’ve recently seen to address the functioning of our divided nation. As a former Army officer, I share Joseph Kearns Goodwin’s perception that military service provides unique opportunities for interacting with people of all races, classes, geographic regions, and ideologies. Expanding opportunities for national service should be strongly supported to enhance civic duty, common purpose, and genuine camaraderie in our young people’s first working experiences. Support for this expansion could be a real win for the widely disparaged federal government, countering recent congressional efforts to cut such programs.

Paul J. Hennessy / Newton Centre

Everyone should serve; everyone should give back to this country that we are so lucky to live in. As a vet myself, I think the military is a great way to help folks grow up, take responsibility, be held accountable, get some structure in their lives. For those for whom the military is not an option, there are many other wonderful programs that allow folks to give back in a meaningful way.

John Ballinger / Needham

A SQUIRRELLY SCENE

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Please tell me the squirrels are not living in Stan Grossfeld’s eaves (“There Goes the Neighborhood,” Connections, July 16). They can be very destructive — they’ll even chew through roof rafters if they want more space. I know from experience how troublesome they can be. If he is allowing them to nest there, I’ll have to ask him to turn in his man card.

Jim Vander Poel / Northborough

Thanks for not harming the other living beings who were here before the houses were built on what they thought was their land, taking their home trees, their food, and so on. The piece is a beautiful contrast to mean-spirited columns about dealing nastily with inconvenient forms of life.

Ingrid Newkirk

President, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,

Washington, D.C.

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I have a surefire way to get rid of squirrels: a white strobe light and reflective pinwheels placed at the roof and pointed where the squirrels gather. The light must be blindingly bright and should reflect 180 degrees toward them. This method is inexpensive, will not damage the tree, the environment, the squirrels, or the house, uses very little electricity, and should allow birds to continue to congregate in the tree. If carefully situated, it will not bother the neighbors.

George Baquis / Brookline

It may be a corny thing to say, but I’m nuts for the squirrel column by Stan Grossfeld. Though the squirrels commit a cardinal sin by ticking him off, he wisely employs an owl to perform a head-turning exorcism. I’m glad the Grossfelds have ferreted out a solution to their rodent problem, as their bucket challenge will never go national.

Meg Stafford / Littleton

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