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Marking the start of almost seven years of service to the nation, I was sworn into the U.S. Army on Sept. 14, 1965. With a room full of other young men, most of whom had responded to draft notices in those pre all-volunteer army days, I took an oath to “Uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
In school I had read and written reports on the Constitution during U.S. history classes, so I was quite familiar with what was, at the time it was adopted, the world’s most shockingly liberal document to be posited by any nation as the core principles of its establishment.
Later on I was inspired by my North Carolina Sen. Sam Ervin’s practice and purchased a pocket-sized copy like the one he always carried in his coat pocket. Sen. Sam was the acknowledged U.S. Senate’s authority on constitutional law of his time.
Always known as an “outspoken” person who was never reticent in expressing his own feelings, thoughts and observations, I always placed the highest personal value on the Constitution’s First Amendment in our Bill of Rights. Civil rights, human rights are simply that and not in any way subject to a majority vote by a group or the U.S. Congress; it isn’t a “Bill of Maybes”!
Equally critical to our cherished American freedoms, privileges and rights is a free press, a place where every American can express and argue if necessary, his or her own thoughts and opinions.
Skip Nichols, the Wise County Messenger’s last editor, told me one memorable day there was a man who had expressed a desire to meet the person (me) who was brave enough to express those words in print. I was flattered of course, and indeed I am not hesitant to express my own thoughts and opinions, as anyone who has read those words can attest.
Be that as it may, my real or imagined personal “bravery” is not the issue; rather it’s the bravery of the editorial staff and the owner of the Wise County Messenger that’s the real point of contention.
I have noticed several writers who take the Messenger to task in the Opinion section for publishing my thoughts and words. Obviously they would have the Messenger publish only nice “Christian” opinions and perhaps church bulletins, which of course the newspaper does on a regular basis.
Thank you for your bravery, Wise County Messenger.