We received a number of letters about Auto Club South President John Tomlin's column on the Military Academy of West Point in the last issue. This one touched all of us.
I have great respect and appreciation for John Tomlin's editorial in the last issue, entitled "The Character of a Leader.
This was personal to my wife and me. We lost our oldest son, Captain Joshua T. Byers, in Ramadi, Iraq, on July 23, 2003 (his mother's birthday). He was killed by an IED and was leading a convoy as they moved to Fallujah on that day. Josh was the commander of Fox Troop in the 2nd squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment out of Fort Carson, CO, at that time.
Josh was a 1996 graduate of West Point. He excelled in classes, especially since honor was a huge trait in his life and a major reason that he chose to go to West Point. Needless to say, we think of Josh every minute of every day, but he loved his country and was willing to pay the most dreadful consequence of war. Freedom is not free. You can read of his accomplishments online by Googling "Captain Josh Byers."
I am writing a book on his younger years, his West Point experience and his heroic accomplishments while serving our great nation. Josh's last words, told to us by the driver of the Humvee, were, "Keep moving forward," which will be the title of my book. My emphasis will include the honor, respect, fairness and commitment to the principles you pointed out so beautifully.
With your permission, I would like to quote some of your column in my book. Thank you for believing in our great educational system at West Point and our other military academies, and all that you said to encourage people to vote.
—Lloyd Byers Joshua's Mission, www.joshuasmission.us, Nashville, TN
John Tomlin responds: Thank you, Lloyd, for the kind words regarding my recent column in Going Places. I would be honored to have any part of my article used in Keep Moving Forward. I can only imagine the difficulty in writing this book, but I also know that it will honor Josh's service and the great sacrifice he made for all of us.
I wanted to share with John Tomlin that his President's Message last issue was one of the most comforting, focused communication pieces I've read. Thank you, John.
—Andy W., Via phone
As a graduate, I was pleased with the nice tribute to the Academy. There are several state military academies, and in the interest of accuracy, it is not "West Point Military Academy," but instead the United States Military Academy located at West Point, NY.
—Bart F., USMA Class of 1960, Via email
Editor's Note: You're correct. Thanks for the clarification. We'd also like to thank you, and all the other hardworking members of the military over the years, for your service to our country.
I read your "10 Best Holiday Flicks." The writer, Sandy Klim, cannot be a certified film critic since she left out two great Christmas movies: namely, Miracle on 34th Street and The Polar Express. How could she choose such ridiculous movies as the Grinch stealing Christmas and The Ref, about a dysfunctional family? I hope you find another film critic next year who can pick movies that have meaning to the Christmas season.
—Kathleen M.,Holiday, FL
How could you! It's a disgrace that you would put The Ref in your holiday list and not Miracle on 34th Street!
—Mary N., Via email
Home Alone and The Ref make your list, but Miracle on 34th Street doesn't? Say it ain't so, Sandy!
—Rod C., Via email
Editor's Note: Actually, I'm the first to admit I'm not a film critic. I'm a movie buff and have seen these holiday flicks several times. You weren't alone in questioning my choices, perhaps I need to reconsider!