(The following Letter to the Editor is in reference to an Op/Ed column by Melissa Martin entitled “Happy Birthday America!” that appeared on the Meigs Independent Press July 5, 2018.)

Dear Editor:

I am a Marine Corps Iraqi veteran who spent most of 2008 in Fallujah, Iraq. I served with some of the finest men and women I have ever known. I am proud of my service, and am eternally grateful to those who continue to volunteer their service in all branches of our military.

However, there are several issues I would like to address in your opinion column Happy Birthday America!

The fourth of July is a celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The document we americans hold dear because of it’s aspirational, optimistic view that all human beings have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This document enshrines america’s vision as a country, and what kind of society we strive for.

The article in question, however, spends most of it’s type telling us we should spend the fourth being thankful to our military veterans, only mentioning the declaration at the very beginning and end of the article. Honoring our vets is absolutely fine with me, but we already have veterans day and memorial day. The idea we should also spend the fourth honoring our vets misses the entire point of the holiday.

The author reminds us freedom is not free, and I agree. But many non military Americans have sacrificed for what is enshrined in the declaration.

The abolitionists who fought for emancipation.

The suffragettes who fought for the vote.

The 19th century workers (some of whom were killed) who fought for the dignity of work.

The activists of the civil rights era, who fought for the very ideal of all men being created equal.

We should all remember that we as a people are the ones who must strive and struggle to achieve a country and society that mirrors the words of the declaration. Simply being content in our personal security does not advance our national journey of fulfilling Jefferson’s vision.

Every dictatorship in the world proudly touts it’s military, because the military enforces a dictator’s rule, not the rights of citizens.

We must never forget the ideals and lofty vision of the declaration are what we are celebrating, not simply the ability for our military to protect the status quo.

Tom Tirado