Sally Ride
Father Serra looms large in California's history

To the editor: Without Father Junipero Serra, California has no history. I have just helped a grandchild work through the fourth grade, and I am more respectful of the accomplishments of Serra than ever before. ("Time to retire the Father Serra statue in Washington?," editorial, April 17) The Franciscan missionaries came into this previously barren land and set to work growing crops, raising cattle and horses, teaching the native Californians how to exist in a civilized world and spreading the Christian faith. This was a huge job for just a few missionaries, but they had big sandals to fill: those of Serra. I am sure that astronaut Sally Ride, America's first woman in...