POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

Thank A Vet Today!

by David Trumbull -- November 11, 2011

If you served our nation in her army, navy, air force, marines, or coast guard and happen to be in Washington, D.C. today, November 11th, this Veterans Day 2011, stop in after work at my club. I plan to buy drinks for all veterans there to thank them for my freedom.

I plan also to post a “Thank You” on Facebook and on blogs. I may even “tweet” the message. Thanks to the men and women who served, I—and you reader—have freedom to put messages on the internet for all the world to read. Well, actually, not “all the world,” it turns out. One out of five persons on earth live in the Peoples Republic of China, where the government blocks social media and other websites that might help citizens to organize against the regime.

I just returned from China where I gave a speech at the Canton Fair in Guangzhou, toured textile and apparel factories in Jiangsu Province, and did a little sightseeing in Shanghai. It was an enjoyable and productive visit. Every single person I met was kind and helpful. Everything is very modern. My hosts from the China Chamber of Commerce for Import & Export of Textiles put me up in fine hotels with high-speed internet service, but when I tried to access websites I routinely use I found them blocked by the government. No Facebook, no Google, no blogs.

Governments always try to silence their opponents. Democrats in Washington from time to time threaten to bring back something called “the fairness” doctrine, a form of censorship that for several years, until President Reagan repealed it, banned conservative opinions from the broadcast airwaves. But each time the public expresses its outrage at such proposed censorship. Colleges and universities propping up the liberal establishment in Washington routinely try to ban conservative or Republican speakers and writers. But when challenged the schools, or at least the public schools which must follow the First Amendment, are forced to back down. President Obama tried to ban Fox News from White House reporting, but had to relent when even the pro-Obama liberal broadcast networks baulked, understanding that a threat to anyone’s First Amendment rights is a threat to everyone’s right to free speech.

Our freedoms, including freedom of speech and press, do not come freely. Every war that America has fought, including the current war on terror, has been and is, in some measure, a war to preserve our freedom. Perhaps you’ve seen the bumper sticker “If You Can Read This, Thank a Teacher.” Well, I’ll add “If You Can Read What You Choose, Thank a Warrior.”