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Alan R. Yoffee

Writings

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Hold That Smoke, Mom and Pop, For One Day at Least

New research indicates that no matter how old you are and no matter how long you’ve been smoking, it’s never too late to quit. According to a recent study, cutting out cigarettes reduces your risk of cancer, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and heart attacks - even if you have smoked for decades.

The "Senior Center Smokeout" project, taking place on Thursday Nov. 15 at senior centers throughout the city, will provide center members with an environment for a successful smoke-free day. On the day of the smokeout, cosponsored by PhiladelphiaCorporation for Aging’s Senior Center Health Promotion Program and the American Cancer Society, participating centers will be deemed "smoke free" and smoking will be prohibited on the grounds.

The project will attempt to get center members to refrain from smoking permanently, or at least for a day. Posters urging members to stop smoking will be placed throughout the centers. "Cold Turkey" box lunches, which will include turkey sandwiches, and "survival kits" containing celery, carrot sticks and apples will also be distributed.

The smokeout is being held the same day as the American Cancer Society’s "Great American Smokeout." A 45-minute program on the benefits of not smoking will be provided prior to the smokeout.

(At the time of his death, Alan was nominated for an award for developing this program)

Berlin Wall symbolizes unreachable peace

Every year when people celebrate their birthdays they look in amazement to the past, realizing how fast the clock of time turns. They also look to the future, wondering when that clock will stop. On my last birthday, the beginning of my second decade on this great planet, I decided to look back to the day I was born to see what events were taking place. I found out that, as the saying goes, "Some things never change." I found a world in dispute, a world on the verge of destruction....

Imagine an unseasonably hot day in August, thousands of babies have been born and their parents are wondering if they made a mistake bringing a baby into the tense world. Russia and the United States are having heated arguments over Russia’s intervening in another country’s affairs. A third world war could be the first headline on the news tomorrow night.

Sounds familiar doesn’t it? It could be August 1981, but it isn’t. On August 25, 1961, the day of my birth, Russia and the United States continued exchanging threats of war and violence. The only thing my mom remembers about the day, besides being in labor and having twins, was a terrible heat wave. Being born during a heat wave could explain my dislike for the cold weather, Despite the lack of cold weather, the Cold War continued.

The American-Soviet conflict over the Berlin Wall continued and eventually led to each country resuming the arms race. A declaration issued by August 12, 1961 by the Communist Warsaw pact governments called the East German government to impose effective controls along the border between East and West Berlin, the escape route used by more than 2 million Germans since 1949 to flee to the free world. Western allies waited several days before taking action, threatening the communist governments with possible Western intervention.

Threats continued back and forth from the allies to the communists. The allies would ask for the Soviets to stop intervening in East Germany’s affairs, and the Soviets would reply, "Nyet!" East Germany’s communist boss told East Germans, "It would seem that the communist experience was failing since thousands of people are running to West Germany and freedom."

On August 23, 1961, the Soviet Union sent the United States, Britain and France notes charging the western powers of abusing their rights to the air corridors over East Germany by flying anticommunist spies into the area occupied by Russia and East German troops to check the degree of Soviet intervention. The White House issued a statement August 24 warning the soviets that "any interference by the Soviet government or its East German regime with free access to West Berlin would be an aggressive act for the consequences of which the Soviet government would bear full responsibility." The passing of warning statements continued.

War was threatened, but no battles ever took place, although the United States sent troops to the Berlin border. The threats between the two countries led to something worse than a battle, resumption of the arms race. This action has profoundly affected me and every other person. Although the subject of controversy is no longer East Germany, the two countries continue to threaten each other, and the world’s existence, with the possibility of a nuclear holocaust.

The Berlin Wall built during August 1961 is a symbol to me. It symbolizes the impossibility of world peace with democracy on one side of the wall and communism on the other, the two sides never seeing the other side clearly. The wall between the philosophies will ultimately lead to war and nuclear holocaust unless the wall of differences is torn down. The two superpowers must start realizing that if we don’t all work together, we may die altogether.

With the push of a button, a leader can end it all; he can turn back the clock of history. The world hopes no one pushes the button, but we aren’t sure if we will all be alive the next minute. We are all waiting and hoping that we will wake up tomorrow and see the sun shine with everyone at peace, but it is very unlikely. It is unlikely because of the wall.

(This was written as an editorial for the Temple University Newspaper while Alan was a Journalism student)

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