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When you write a column, you get new friends every week

It has been a great year to be afforded the opportunity to write a weekly newspaper column. I can draw from toolboxes full of sarcasm, sadness, controversy and head-shaking doubt. And it’s never dull.

Part of that enjoyment comes from you, the readers, who often take the time to write a note, send an email or pick up the telephone. The presidential election was a particularly opulent opportunity.

“Why is it that I have yet to hear a cogent argument from a Romney proponent that can tell us why Romney/Ryan is the better ticket?” wrote one reader.

“The editor’s endorsement was hollow and shrill. If you support a candidate, plainly state why. Merely pointing out the shortcomings of the other ticket is simply weak.”

Round two: “Your editorial last week angered me so much, that I feel the need to write you. I believe in freedom of the press, [but] I feel the need to discontinue my subscription because of your column. I really do not care who you vote for in this election. I just don’t care to read your opinions anymore!”

Well, that’s just what they are. My opinions.

One man wrote, “In my opinion you should stick to topics directly affecting the local area.” The late Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics is local.”

I wrote a column about my views on the use of drones in combat and noncombat missions. I was inspired to do so after reading (twice) a one-sided, two-page anti-drone commentary in the Buffalo News. An email I received did not share my opposing viewpoint.

“If the missions are secretive how would you know if they are worthwhile?

Your arguments for secrecy seem to lean more toward a totalitarian military empire than a flourishing democracy. I find your use of the term ‘worthwhile’ appalling. Some sources indicate perhaps up to 10 percent of lives lost are innocent lives. This is worthwhile? Maybe your title could be ‘Drone missions may kill innocent lives, but the results are worthwhile.’”

If one less American dies in combat because of intelligence or firepower provided by a drone, these missions will have proved their value.

Fortunately, I receive some positive feedback as well. Jeff Sammut from radio station Sportsnet 590 THE FAN in Toronto did a live interview with me after I praised Terry Pegula’s plan for the Webster Block. It took place at 12:30 in the morning, but I’m sure everyone north of the border enjoyed it.

Following the death of astronaut Neil Armstrong, former Lancaster Town Supervisor Stan Keysa joined my walk down memory lane.

“I found Armstrong to be very pleasant, not at all arrogant, or as you called him: ‘the nice guy who finished first.’”

I was inspired to write about our modest vegetable garden during the spring.

The project reminded me of the late husband and wife team who were responsible for the old “Green Thumb” column.

“One of your readers sent my brother a copy of your piece on our parents, Doc and Katy. Wonderful! So full of warmth and appreciation for what they built. Thank you for such a lovely ‘read’ -- we all miss them a lot,” he wrote.

Justin Young liked my comments about school board members. “My hat is off to you and your poignant portrayal of the history, significance and relevance of our vote this Tuesday. I, myself running for the Depew school board, feel that your article encapsulates the reason why I am running.”

He was one of two candidates elected to the board in a five-person race. Sadly, I wrote about two senseless shootings this year. One was in Aurora, Colo. The other was in Newtown, Conn. A reporter for the Newtown Bee newspaper read my column about Shannon Hicks, the co-worker who took the now-famous photo of Sandy Hook Elementary students being led to safety.

“Thank you for what you wrote about the tragedy David. You, like Shannon, are a fine reporter,” she wrote.

Happy New Year.
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