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War should not destroy our nation's greatness

March 24, 2003|by LINDA DUFFIELD

War.

That one word speaks volumes.

But we must be careful what we let it say, and do, to us as individuals and as a country.

It should not conjure up images of John Wayne or Sylvester Stallone, because war isn't glamorous. People on both sides die. Some are maimed for life, physically or psychologically, in ways that victory on the battlefield can't heal.

It must not be allowed to prompt those who oppose the war to take it out on the brave troops who are doing our fighting for us. That mistake made during the Vietnam War must never be repeated.

It should not be allowed to divide the country. Those for, and those against, this military action must make an effort to respect each other's opinions, difficult as that might be at times. Good people can disagree.

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It must not be allowed to turn us into knee-jerk jingoists who look for a cheap fix for our frustration. It is not, for instance, unpatriotic to call a french fry a french fry.

It must not be allowed to stifle disagreement on the pretext that opposing the war is unpatriotic. If we fight for nothing else, we should fight to preserve our way of life, our traditions and our remarkable American spirit of dissent.

It is the right to disagree with our government, publicly, and at times loudly, that sets us apart from so many other nations in the world. It might even be that right - some would say obligation - that makes us the great country that we are.

We should not let war force us to brush aside the Constitution, eliminating freedoms and personal rights without cause. If we do that, we will no longer be the country we are.

It should not harden our hearts against the innocent civilians in the area where our bombs are falling. Blanket hatred will serve no purpose other than to sow the seeds of enmity for future generations to reap.

And if victory is swift, as so many predict, we must find a way to help those who are suffering, both here and in Iraq.

We must show the world, and ourselves, that we have not only might, but compassion.




Linda Duffield is managing editor of The Morning Herald. She can be reached at 301-733-5131, extension 7591, or by e-mail at lindad@herald-mail.com.

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