No involuntary servitude

Regarding Sister Barbara B. Smith’s article “Battlefront or Homefront” in the June New Era, I must comment. No one is forced to enlist in the armed forces. A person must swear that he is entering of his or her own volition, without mental reservations. I’d say the girl cited in Sister Smith’s talk was a pretty weak individual. If her friends deserted her because she is a Mormon, then these friends were pretty poor choices to make in the first place. As for the letter from the girl’s visiting teacher, I wonder what held this girl back from seeking the Church out in the first place. If this girl really cared about herself, I’m sure she would have made her presence known to members of the Church located at her post. I would like to know why this girl joined the army. Could it have possibly been an attempt to try something new or reject her home life? I do not feel that women who join the armed forces place themselves into involuntary servitude or that the discipline is so unrelenting that it drives them to liquor, smoking, drugs, or any other wrong thing. If the home lives of these people were adequate and correct, these women would have no difficulty in the armed services.

Paul H. Sayles, Jr,
Specialist Five
United States Army


I never felt prompted to write to the editor of a magazine before, but I had to comment on “Battlefront or Homefront” in the June New Era. I totally agree with what was written. I was discharged from the U.S. Navy this April, and I can’t emphasize enough that girls about to enlist should do some very careful thinking about it. My advice is, don’t do it. No problem is drastic enough to warrant enlisting. I thought mine was. I went in because I owed outstanding educational loans and couldn’t find suitable employment to pay them back.

Sister Smith knows what she is talking about when she mentions the strain of regimentation and the difficulty of putting your life so completely in someone else’s charge. The problem the Relief Society visiting teachers mentioned is common. How very difficult it is to keep gospel standards in mind when one is continually subject to the “rowdy, cigarette-filled barracks and the regimentation of a job for which one is neither suited nor trained.” You can keep the standards if you apply yourself. Nevertheless, you can’t live in a mudhole without getting some mud on you. I’m not saying the whole military is a mudhole. I’m saying these influences are there, and they’re wearing sometimes when you are constantly subjected to them hour after hour, day in and day out, month after month. It rubs off. It can’t help but do so.

You might be subjected to a job you are not suited for. For a time I was ordered to be a deckhand for yard oilers. It was hard, cold, dirty, heavy, dangerous work. These days such jobs are opening up more and more to women, thanks to women’s liberation groups, and you don’t have the options of quitting as on a civilian job if you can’t do it or don’t like it. You do it. I was lucky. I was the only one transferred out of that job after two months. The average time for transfer was 12 months. I know the Lord had a hand in that situation.

The attitude toward women is different in the military. You are one of the troops and subjected to a lot of crudeness. Perhaps this is just a manifestation of the attitude toward women in our society today, but I find it especially so in the military. Don’t think that because you maintain a higher standard you will be exempted from this crudeness and treated differently. You usually will not be.

I was glad to see “Battlefront or Homefront” in the New Era.

Marie Ovington Thomas
Charleston, South Carolina

Mime time

The Lord surely hears and answers the prayers of his children. As a mimist I have been anxiously awaiting an article on pantomime—the first form of communication and possibly the oldest art form. From caricatures, to white mime, to serious mime, and my own personal poetic mime, I have been able to communicate the deepest-felt ideas and emotions on all topics to an audience. As a missionary tool, mime arouses interest, portrays an idea, and allows for an action that the nonmembers can interact with. It brings a more personal explanation by deeply embedding the illusion in their minds through both word and deed.

Elder Alan R. Gerge
Tennessee Nashville Mission


Aloha from Hawaii. It’s a thrill to say how much I appreciate the New Era. I especially enjoy the messages from the General Authorities and the Missionary Focus.

Sister Taulasi L. Gasu
Hawaii Honolulu Mission

The wisdom I was lacking

I am 18 years old, a freshman at Brigham Young University, and I am preparing for a mission in October. I just finished reading the May issue of the New Era, cover to cover, and I can’t keep myself from writing! I have always enjoyed reading the New Era, but this is one of the few times I have read it completely. I sat down with the intent of catching up on my studies, and then I picked up the magazine and started reading an article I just couldn’t put it down until I was finished with the whole thing. The messages in this issue really seemed to enlighten me with the wisdom I was tacking at this particular time in my life, especially President Romney’s advice on how to gain a testimony. I also felt a special spirit when I read about “Stephen,” the boy whose determined and loving spirit completely conquered his physical handicap. He is certainly a tool in the hands of God.

Roger Tuckett
Spanish Fork, Utah

The best years of my life

Thank you very much for enriching my life with the New Era. I’ve been a member for six wonderful years, and they have been the best years of my life. The gospel is beautiful, and I could not live without it. I want to bear witness that I know the gospel is true, that Jesus is the Christ, and that Joseph Smith surely was a prophet of God.

K. Williams
Astoria, Oregon

These troubled times

My husband and I find the New Era very useful, especially in these troubled times. It’s very inspiring to read the words of the prophets and apostles. It’s also good to read about the Church in other countries. Seeing the Church grow is a wonderful feeling. My husband and I plan to be sealed in the temple in the near future, and the New Era will be such a help to us.

Mrs. Jill Whitcook
St. Albaris, Christchurch,
New Zealand

You’re never too old

Twenty-six months ago when I first arrived in Germany, I wrote home to Layton, Utah, and asked my mother to subscribe to some Church publications for me. A couple of months later I was surprised to receive my first New Era. At the time I mistakenly thought I was much too old and mature for such a magazine. But as the months came along so did the New Era, and I found myself being uplifted by such wonderful stories as “Strike the Steel,” “Jensen and Ernstein,” and “If Thou Art Willing.” The poems, stories, and articles are in keeping with the common, simple philosophy of the Church. I shall always read the New Era—especially during my last months of duty here in Europe. I know that it will be a strength to me on my future mission. The magazine has helped me keep the Spirit of the Lord during these years of military service. I sincerely thank the Lord for this blessing.

Sherman Fleek
Mainz, Germany

Better than beauty pageants

We, the youth of the Church, are often told that today’s youth will be tomorrow’s leaders. This is true. The New Era gives us new ideas and a chance to see what other Mormon youth are doing. I especially liked the story “The Paper Butterfly” in the June issue. This story helped me realize that I came here to earth to gain exaltation, not to be in a beauty pageant. Thanks for such inspiring stories.

Marsha Wallace
Big Spring, Texas

Stronger than ever

Ever since I was baptized in the sea, my belief in the gospel has been firm. But since I started receiving the New Era, it has been stronger than ever. The beauty of the Church has shone out so much more. When I think of this small branch, 45 to 50 in number, planning activities for our seven youth, my mind is inspired. The New Era brings so much happiness and high spirits to my mind that my testimony has increasingly grown. Thank you for such a great magazine.

Yvonne Csertu
Nhulunbuy, Australia

So much to learn

I really look forward to reading both the New Era and the Ensign. I appreciate you for your love and concern for us all and especially for having two such fantastic magazines for members of the true Church. And since I’m a fairly recent convert (seven months), I feel there is still so much for me to learn.

Kimberly Rowe
Marietta, Georgia