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Good values shouldn't come at all costs

June 03, 2013|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com
  • Bob Parasiliti
Joe Crocetta

How valuable are basic values?

You have to wonder.

We are in a time when we value value.

Money’s tight and most everyone is looking for a two-for-one deal, a cents-off coupon and a way to get the biggest bang for a buck.

That’s called financial survival.

But while we are looking for two nickels to rub together in our pockets, we forget something that is even more valuable.

The right to be able to put your two cents in on issues.

That is what might be called moral survival and the use of common sense.

Allegedly, we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We have the right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

We have a right to do what we please in our country — as long as our actions stay within the guidelines of its laws.

Those rights are supposed to be universal, not subjectively optional.

I know a young man named Nathan Steelman, and I can’t speak for him, but I know I would be questioning all this if I were him.

Steelman, a Smithsburg High School graduate, has invested about a third of his life serving two stints in the Army to defend the ideas of the Constitution and the given rights of all Americans.

He helped keep a unified American front, trying to help others who are less fortunate receive these rights while preserving them for us.

After last Wednesday, though, I wouldn’t blame Steelman if he was wondering if he wasted his time.

Steelman was one of more than 39,000 fans who attended the Washington Nationals-Baltimore Orioles game at Camden Yards.

To him, it should have represented everything he sacrificed to preserve.

It was a gorgeous, late spring evening with friends, watching a game he loved to play.

Along the way, he crossed paths with Matt Fortese, an old baseball friend and opponent from Boonsboro he hadn’t seen in a couple of years. For five minutes, they rekindled the friendship and talked about old times.

Steelman also encountered some other acquaintances who, like him, were just returning from their service and were out watching a game that they, in a sense, defended the right for everyone to attend.

Little did Steelman know that he had returned from one war to fight a new one.

As it turned out, it was a battle against stupidity. 

While he was speaking with his brothers in arms, he witnessed his brother of a different uniform being victimized in an attack caused by the most absurd of circumstances.

Two men — who don’t deserve to be named — had allegedly thrown beer at Fortese and his party while they watched the game. They drenched Fortese’s new girlfriend, leading him to confront them.

When Fortese confronted them, reports say he was punched, knocked unconscious and tumbled eight feet, landing on his head, fracturing his skull.

Steelman was the first to come to the rescue — not knowing it was Fortese — and saved his fallen friend’s life, while containing the situation.

The whole scene might have brought back memories of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The only difference? This battle wasn’t about defending a flag. It was about defending a choice of headwear.

Fortese was targeted for wearing a New York Yankees cap at an Orioles game.

Now, let’s understand. Fans are very passionate about their teams.

They defend their turf for them.

They wear their colors.

That is the rhetoric that makes sports fun and engaging for heated debates in bars and stadiums across the country.

But it isn’t an invitation for violence … at least it’s not supposed to be.

This is a domestic war, and now it caused the same kind of casualty that forces a family to try to cope with and understand. By all reports, it was one of cowardly, misplaced bravado that should have been fun, verbal sparring instead of one of physical violence.

Fortese elected to use his right to back his team. His right to choose. His right to voice an opinion.

Two people didn’t agree, which is their right. But, in this country, this type of disagreement doesn’t give anyone the right to accost another.

If everyone would act in similar fashion, these two could have been in fights all night. They could have been in battles with the people sitting next to them for choosing beer over cola or a hot dog instead of a burger. It could have gone as far as wearing a different color or different hairstyle.

It didn’t happen because other people have common sense and restraint.

And because some people can’t figure that out, a life — and lifestyle — hang in the balance.

Incidents like this one should make people wonder if it’s worth the time and effort our men and women put in fighting to uphold such freedoms.

The problem is that for every person like Nate Steelman who protected those given rights, there seem to be two out there who forget and abuse them.

It shouldn’t devalue the people like Steelman or Fortese, for that matter.

That would be a very heavy price to pay.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or at bobp@herald-mail.com.

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