I attended and enjoyed Sunday's fabulous performance by theU.S. Navy's Blue Angels and other crack units of the American military in Baltimore. The weather was perfect, the crowd friendly, and the narration was, for the most part, as on target as the Navy jet.
I was astonished, however, when the narrator interjected a gratuitous swipe at the Fourth Estate and non-military citizens in general.
To the best of my recollection, the quote I refer to declaimed as follows:
"It is the soldier, not the reporter, who stands for and protects our freedom."
"It is the soldier, not the protester, who stands for and protects our freedom."
"It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who stands for and protects our freedom."
My reaction was that this — in the most fundamental meaning of the word — was un-American. And I was not alone in this sentiment, as the gentleman standing next to me voiced the same opinion.
It was an affront to any thinking person, and represented the sort of jingoistic propaganda more suited to an air show in Peking or Havana than Baltimore.
As a former soldier who served in a dangerous area of the Middle East, I can tell you that I would rather be standing in a dangerous area with a loaded assault rifle than a video camera.
Anyone who follows the courageous reporters who cover wars knows the risks these brave men and women take. Many have lost their lives.
Further, the protester, particularly the one who protests an unjust war, is a key defender of freedom, too. That person is defending the ultimate freedom — to have our valiantU.S. militarypersonnel live out their lives rather than die in unnecessary wars such as those in Vietnam or Iraq.
The campus organizer, motivating citizens to exercise their freedom to vote, is equally a key defender of freedom, for freedom unexercised is at risk of becoming freedom lost.
I am a patriot, and I proudly fly my 15 Stars and Stripes to celebrate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. I am proud of all of our soldiers, in all branches of the military, who perform valiantly, even if the wars they are sometimes sent to fight are not fought in defense of freedom.
A vital and energetic democracy cannot, however, remain free solely through the projection of military power.
The military is an indispensible link in a chain that includes a strong and independent press, and an engaged public including those who choose to protest and organize.
How very un-American and un-patriotic it was to imply otherwise.
Richard B. Karel, Baltimore