In another time, during another war, I entered the U.S. Air Force in 1972. Public debate was common, as it was during the War of Independence, the war against the Barbary pirates, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the annexation of Hawaii, the Spanish-American War and a hundred other conflicts.
Lately, I see a number of letter writers and columnists who claim that public disagreement with the current war goals and policies somehow hurts the troops. With my experience, I disagree.
One point of pride I had while in military service was our American freedom of speech. I still view the debates, protests, demonstrations, Nixon's resignation and the ultimate end-of-war funding then as signs that freedom of speech improves government policy through the exercise of personal liberty.
I swore (or affirmed) to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Those who would silence disagreement should ask themselves why Constitutional freedoms should now disappear.
Cordell B. Jelf Jr.