March 5, 2014

Editorial: No shame in not approving tax break

Beekmantown Central School Board decided recently not to grant a special reduction in the school tax for military veterans for 2014-15, in order to seek more input on the idea.

The concern was that giving the tax break to so many residents of the district would inordinately burden those who honestly could not afford to make up the loss.

How many taxpayers are already struggling to meet their obligations before piling on new responsibilities? How many veterans truly need the tax reduction, and how many are living comfortably under their current requirements?

Not that veterans are not deserving of some kind of gesture. This is particularly so in a region in which military service is especially revered. Up until 1995, Plattsburgh and its environs had been home to a military presence since the American Revolution. When Plattsburgh Air Force Base closed, an impressive string of military achievement and contribution ended.

But, even in an area such as this, where military service is held in such high regard, attitudes can be transitory.

Back in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, some will recall, soldiers were disparaged and even disdained for their complicity — willing or unwilling — in the Vietnam War. Citizens scorned returning veterans, even those who hadn’t been to Vietnam.

This was especially troubling because a lot of those veterans had gone anything but voluntarily. The draft was active then, and millions of young men who hadn’t the slightest interest in conducting a war were sent off to do just that.

Even those who weren’t sent to the Far East had to give up two years of their life to do military service in the United States or at some base overseas but apart from the fighting. Those two years were not easy, especially in light of possible career objectives that had to be delayed.

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