Meanings of patriotism 

It is amazing how one person can be so consistently wrong about everything — well, almost everything. You are correct that freedom is not bestowed by soldiers or even the government, but that it is a gift from God (Hammer, “Who or What Gives Us Freedom?” July 2-9). Your life and your health are gifts from God, too, but there are truly “evil people” here in Indianapolis (and many of them are fine “liberals”) and elsewhere who would think nothing of taking those gifts away from you if they could for the few dollars that are in your wallet (because of the greed of corporate chieftains at NUVO not paying you what you are worth).

Freedom is NOT guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. It is not a self-enforcing document. If it was, we could not only dispense with our military but with our police forces as well. (Maybe you could try holding up a copy of the Bill of Rights when a burglar breaks into your home! Let me know how that works out.)  

Yes, freedom is a gift from the Almighty, but without our military to PRESERVE our individual freedom, in this world where there are truly evil people (Hitler, Stalin, Osama and others too numerous to mention) who care nothing about any Bill of Rights, treaties, Geneva Conventions, etc., you could be in the position of the people in France in 1940 and the people in so many other countries around the world today where their God-given freedom has been trampled on and taken away. Ask a Frenchman who is in his 80s whether Hitler respected his God-given freedom and how our military affected his freedom in 1944 and 1945.

I realize that you are disturbed by the “Republican” meaning of patriotism (which I think is closer to our Founders’ meaning of patriotism than yours). Republicans do not desire war, but they recognize that sometimes it is necessary. The best way to preserve peace and to protect freedom is to be both morally and militarily strong. What should disturb you is the “Democrat” meaning of patriotism that is so evident in your writing — identifying America in terms of “shameful and disgraceful activities,” “torture” and naive faith in the power of “being nice,” merely “talking” with enemies who openly wish us ill, and focusing on the worst in our country (especially when the president is a Republican).

To paraphrase your punch line: Don’t confuse the mere existence of the Bill of Rights with the chimes of freedom. There are many evil people who are hoping that you do.

Chuck Doberneck

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