|The Seattle Times, Week of August 24, 1968
Editor, The Times:
It is a sad commentary on our times when the Commanding Officer of a large naval air station stoops to petty harassment. Yet when one views the whole picture at Sand-point Naval Air Station, one can readily understand why it has culminated in the prohibition of decorative daisies on cars entering the base:
As a member of the armed forces, I receive less pay than I would in an equivalent civilian position. To compensate for this, I have been given free medical care, a commissary where I can buy food for less, and an exchange where I can buy other things at lower than civilian prices. Thus my lower pay is made to go farther and I can exist on it. This is the theory.
At Sandpoint, however, things are different. The medical facilities are antiquated and inadequate, and although the staff does its best, it is limited by what it has. The gas station sells its gas for four mills less than outside, hardly a significant savings. At the commissary the prices are about what one would find at any Thursday Shoppers Special at the corner supermarket; except that the meats are second rate, and that one is limited to a choice of seldom more than, two of any one item instead of the many choices available at even a small supermarket, and that the shelves are seldom stocked completely so that one seldom goes shopping without being told that such and such an item will not be available until next week. The Exchange is a limited facility which, until recently, did not even sell Playboy. It will not come as a surprise that on a base where the troops cannot have daisies on their cars, they cannot buy dressy turtlenecks or ascot scarves either.
I was, at first astounded by the daisy prohibition because their connection with the military seems so vague, but then I realized that Sandpoint reaches far deeper than the military. And when you try to control identity, involvement, self expression—when you go beyond the purse string to the heartstring—you begin to nibble at the very essence of the American. The end always has a beginning.
If this letter is printed, please withhold my name…for obvious reasons.