Letters to the Community & Opinion -> Opinions, Rants and Ponderings

The Patriotism of Dissent

posted at 12:36 pm Tue Aug 22nd, 2006 by (DonMayer)

The airwaves have been full of charges and counter charges concerning dissent about the war in Iraq. Here in the Mad River Valley we have a field that has a flag representing each of our servicemen and women that have died in Iraq.

On Veteran's Day someone stole some of those flags. No one knows why but the debate seems so familiar. There have been many times when those in power have claimed that to speak out against their policies was unpatriotic. Fortunately, we live in a free society where free speech, debate and dissent are both patriotic and essential.

Peaceful dissent, debate and free speech are the very cornerstones of our nation's freedom and the reasons that so many of our sons and daughters willingly volunteer for service. It is our patriotic duty to honor that commitment and support our leaders who send them to war, WHEN THEY ARE RIGHT. It is also our solemn duty to challenge those leaders when they are wrong.

The current attacks on critics of the war, whether it is Cindy Sheehan or Pennsylvania Rep. Jack Murtha who spent 37 years in the Marine Corps, rising to the rank of colonel and serving in combat in Korea and Vietnam are unpatriotic and clearly political in nature. There should be no surprise that the country is becoming weary of a war where there seems to be no end, no plan and where the people we are ostensibly fighting to liberate overwhelmingly want us out of their country. Every day we see additional deaths of our soldiers and Iraqis, every day we see another story of prisoner abuse and every day we make more enemies as we create the mother of all terrorist training grounds.

Representative Murtha is a hawk and is known as a friend and champion of officers at the Pentagon and in the war zone, it is widely believed in Congress that Murtha often speaks for those in uniform and could be echoing what U.S. commanders in the field and in the Pentagon are saying privately about the conflict.

The resources we are spending on this mistaken war are spent pursuing the wrong priorities. As the congress slashes food stamps, home heating oil subsidies and student loans and while the budget deficit soars, we continue to spend billions each month on this war. Questioning those priorities is the duty of every American.

The claim is that exercising your conscience and expressing doubts about this war is undermining the troops and comforting the enemy. I have no doubt that whether you are in favor of or in opposition to the war that we all support our sons, daughters, neighbors and friends that are sacrificing to serve our country. To NOT express your concern, to blindly follow leaders, to abandon our troops to a hopeless situation in Iraq, that is not providing support to our troops.

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