Pretty Picture

My Fall 2008 copy of the University of Virginia Magazine just arrived and I am blown away by the stunning cover. “View from an archway beneath the Rotunda” is simply beautiful. Thank you for such a memorable photograph. When I first saw it, I said to myself, “That has to be a Llewellyn.” It evokes the spirit of the University and fond memories of my experiences as one of the first woman students in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Marjorie Sargent (Col ’58, Educ ’63)
Williamsburg, Va.

Understanding China

My wife and I were in China during the uprising in Tibet last March and were very interested in Ed Crews’ well-written article, “The Tibetan Connection” in the Fall ’08 issue. The TV in our hotel room went blank every time any news about Tibet began broadcasting. We looked for other sources of information, but to no avail. Like the Tiananmen Square massacre of the previous decade, the true number of deaths from these two demonstrations will probably never be known to us. This sad situation is very indicative of the complexity of the times concerning our relationship with China and, in turn, its relationship with Tibet. UVA’s newly established Tibetan Center can only help everyone to better understand the continuing situation. We wish the center well in its endeavors.

Martin E. LeBeau (Educ ’66)
New London, N.H.

Required Reading

In the Fall 2008 issue, I noticed when reading the interview with Marcia Day Childress that she is recommending a lost classic by Henry Beston, The Outermost House. I “found” that book two years ago and agree with her recommendation, especially for people who enjoy vacationing on the beach in the summer. It was a different experience for Mr. Beston when he spent an entire year at Cape Cod, especially surviving the winter. Please continue to include this section in the alumni magazine. It is a wonderful way to stay in touch with the UVA community.

Karen Hopke (Educ ’72)
Annandale, Va.

Engaged on Grounds

I am writing in response to the letter in the Fall 2008 issue by Caroline Thomson (Arch ’05). She may be interested in the fact that I proposed to my wife, Carol Myers (Arch ’44), in the photographic darkroom in the basement of Thornton Hall. We had 55 wonderful years together until she died in 1999, at least partially, as a result of an auto accident she had while attending the 50th reunion of her Sweet Briar class.

Paul A. Hunter (Engr ’44)
Newport News, Va.

Anatomically Incorrect

In the Fall 2008 “Retrospect,” you show a photograph that is identified as the interior of Jefferson’s Anatomical Theatre. I am sorry to say that the photo is actually of the operating theater in the first building of the University Hospital. As you can see in the scan of Jefferson’s original drawing for the Anatomical Theatre (below), the theatre itself was square and the windows were demilunes. The operating room shown in the photograph is half-round and the windows are rectangular.

We, too, had those photographs misidentified for quite some time. We only got it sorted in the late ’90s.

Edward Gaynor
Head of Collection Development and Description
University of Virginia Library

More on Iraq

I am not a graduate of the University of Virginia, however I do have a daughter who attends the University. I would like to respond to the letter written by Tim Cunningham (Nurs ’11).

I hope that Mr. Cunningham, although not proud of the University he attends, is in fact proud to live in a country where he can voice his opinion without concern of serious retaliation. It certainly appears, at least from the other letters, he is in the minority, despite his last sentence.

I also hope Mr. Cunningham can rest easy and sleep well knowing that men and women in the U.S. military continue to stand watch all over this world in order for him to have his rights.

Cmdr. C. Woodyard
Battalion Surgeon, 4th CEB Medical


When I received the Fall 2008 magazine I was curious to see how many negative responses you printed in response to your article on the UVA alumni serving in Iraq. There was one, by a Tim Cunningham. I want to say that I could not agree more with what Mr. Cunningham wrote. The war in Iraq is illegal; it is based on lies; it has nothing to do with democracy; it’s all about money, oil and control. While I can respect the bravery of those who serve and perhaps their good intentions, I too was rather outraged that your article had not one honest, critical comment to make about this outrageous and unbelievably expensive war (murderous, too), which has surely lined the pockets of those who deliberately started it and their cronies as much as anything else. The article reminded me of how conservative Virginia is and how self-assured Virginians can be in their conservatism. I am so glad I moved to the West Coast!

Sandy Felton (Col ’75)
Ashland, Ore.


Congratulations on publishing Tim Cunningham’s letter in your Fall 2008 edition. It proves you don’t edit out even the most outlandish opinions, granting all an equal right to freedom of speech. Assuming your editors did not apply bias in publishing the letters congratulating you on your “Iraq Stories” article (congratulations that are well deserved), the volume of them shows the ridiculous nature of Mr. Cunningham’s claim that “the majority of the alumni and student body” would agree with him.

To avoid “embarrassment and perhaps disgust,” the two Iraqis in the picture Mr. Cunningham cites had only to turn around, were those the feelings they held. I believe they were glad to be associated with the American efforts. Or perhaps Mr. Cunningham feels our soldiers held guns to their families’ heads, forcing them to be part of the picture?

Mr. Cunningham did use one word correctly: “ashamed.” I am ashamed any UVA grad would look at your article as a political statement instead of the justified recognition of loyal Americans, UVA grads, doing their duty with pride.

Ken Hopke (Engr ’73)
Annandale, Va.


I graduated from the University in 1996 and was commissioned an Air Force officer the day before graduation. You see, I had attended UVA on an AFROTC scholarship. While at UVA, I was less interested in the military than I was in my college experience and threw myself into the University. The result was that my fourth year I had earned myself a room on the Lawn. Then I graduated, and the real world, the messy real world, beckoned.

There is a tradition in the military called the “Silver Dollar Salute.” When a newly commissioned officer receives his or her first salute from an enlisted service member, the officer gives that enlisted member a silver dollar. My brother came all the way from the missile fields of North Dakota to get that silver dollar on the day I was commissioned. We are a military family, not because we like war, but because we believe in our country. We believe that to be a strong nation we must have a strong military; we must have the capability to protect our people, our government and our interests. I left the Air Force after four years because I became physically disabled, but my brother and his wife have made the Air Force their careers.

My brother and his wife have both been deployed multiple times since 9/11. Each time one of them leaves, left behind is family who loves them beyond measure, but neither one would change their career choice because they believe in what they are doing. The morality of the war is not the question. The morality of protecting the First Amendment rights of men like Tim Cunningham, whose letter you published in this fall’s issue, is what they consider worthy of protecting.

In his letter to the editor, Mr. Cunningham decries the war in Iraq and states that he feels confident speaking for the majority of the student body and the alumni when he says that he is embarrassed to be associated with a school that “publishes such an article that clearly supports the illegal war our nation provoked on Iraq.” Julie Sloane’s article, “Stories from Iraq,” was beautifully sensitive, neither taking a stand for or against the war. Instead, she chose only to relay stories about alumni who had served in Iraq. If Mr. Cunningham had truly read the article, he could not have helped but understand that. Furthermore, as the military is currently an all-volunteer force, with the number of alumni currently serving or having served, Mr. Cunningham’s position as voice of the masses falls short.

While I understand the job of an editor is to publish the opinions of the various readers, I can’t help but think that you had to have received other letters that were neither so offensive nor off-base. Mr. Cunningham’s letter was an attack not just on Ms. Sloane but also on all those who continue to provide his freedom.

Rachael Trudeau (Nurs ’96)
Phoenix, Ariz.


There is another group of alumni who also serve, on the homefront. I don’t know this for a fact, but I expect there are other UVA alumni who are married to members of the military besides myself. Many of them are holding down full- or part-time jobs or businesses and acting as “single” parents while their spouses are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, often for the second or third 12- or 18-month tour. Some may be married to Marines who are doing their fourth or fifth six-month tour.

My husband did not go to Iraq, as he was nearing retirement after a 28-year career with the Army. He did deploy in other world situations.

I’ve done workshops and writing for military spouses across the world since 1993. Military life has always been challenging, with constant moves, living in some remote places and dealing with frequent shorter deployments. The past seven years have been that much harder. These spouses serve their country (as do their children).

Kathie Hotter Hightower (Col ’75)
Nehalem, Ore.

Fear of Snakes

Since having the good fortune to spot and follow the long-running debate on intelligent design in my daughters’ issues of your great magazine, I have become an avid reader. I thank you for reporting on the findings of Drs. LoBue and DeLoache in “What Makes Snakes Scary?” (Summer 2008). I agree completely with their stated conclusion, “We have an inborn predisposition to develop that fear [of snakes].” I know that the God who created snakes and us said to His own creation (one of the subjects of their study), in His own words,

“Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen. 3:14-15).

Science and scientific study confirm the record of the words of our Creator, and I thank you for reporting this.

Ralph R. Polachek (parent)
Chantilly, Va.

The Pep Band Lives

I read an article about the Virginia marching band, titled “A Sound for all Seasons,” and was shocked at how the article completely bypassed the Virginia Pep Band. Recently, I had to explain to not only my father but to several alums that the Pep Band was not dead (as the article portrayed), but still an active part of the UVA community. I know this because even as a recent alum, I still participate with the Virginia Pep Band.

It’s a shame that they had all assumed the Virginia Pep Band was dead, in part because they read the article on the marching band. It would be great if there was an article talking about the Pep Band and its many contributions to the University community. The Virginia Pep Band still plays for club sports (hockey and rugby), community events such as the Charlottesville Ten Miler, United Way Day of Caring, Pancakes for Parkinson’s, and for professional teams such as the Washington Nationals and Washington Capitals.

Matthew Dreher (Arch ’07)
Charlottesville, Va.

A Note of Gratitude

Thank you, Dean Blackburn, for your outstanding years of service to our University. You are one of the classiest gentlemen to have graced Mr. Jefferson’s Grounds. We are all grateful for the many “golden tickets” you have bestowed over the last 23 years. We wish you all the best in your upcoming retirement.

Michelle Lodge (Col ’91)
Herndon, Va.