HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

July 30, 2007
From Our Readers

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Re: From Liberty Street of July 23, 2007

Mr. Turner,

Question:  Are you a veteran of any branch of our military?  I really am curious.  I really want to know.  I am a veteran of the Korean War.  I cry sometimes when I remember George Campbell, whose caring gesture led to his death in Korea instead of mine.

I cry sometimes when a widow with children present, or a parent, is given a flag at the conclusion of a military funeral, especially when the death resulted from service abroad in another of the three senseless wars in succession which we have had to endure.  I "know" that soldier, or sailor, or airman, or coastguardsman.  I KNOW THEM, as only another of them, perhaps, can.   

I cry sometimes when I watch troops saying goodbye to their loved ones as they are deployed, perhaps to die in another senseless war.  I cry sometimes when I watch their safe return to their loved ones, and mourn those who did not return alive.

So, my tears are manufactured, are they.  Yes, you said they were:  "if you cry more over the death of a soldier than you do for the death of a teenager involved in a foolish automobile wreck, then you are shedding manufactured tears."

More often than not, and too often as we know, the teenager who dies in the "foolish automobile wreck" you cite is doing something foolish, not the wreck.  The soldier, whether he likes it or not, is doing what he signed up to do, and pledged his life and his honor to do, and what he is ordered to do, by his superiors right or wrong.

Oh, yes, invoke Nuremburg.  For the soldier on the line, it is not so simple.  What is simple is your commentary, overly simplistic, and tragic, and shallow.

For your information, Mr. Turner, my tears are not manufactured.  They flow from a deep personal connectedness to every member of the military who has ever served, is serving, or may have to serve in some sad future.

Rev. Richard J. Norsworthy,
UU Minister, Retired,
United States Air Force 1950-1954


Editor's Note: I replied to Mr. Norsworthy, but since I was writing to him alone it's just as well for me not to post my reply here. I'll simply add that nothing he says in his letter has caused me to regret the argument I made in last week's "From Liberty Street."


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