I am a regular, a veteran of almost a quarter century of service, including combat action in France and Siberia in the First World War. I am an old-timer and my wife and young son and young daughter are "Army people."
But I remember the little town over in New Jersey where I grew up and went to school and first affiliated myself with a church congregation. There were four churches, including one Roman Catholic Church and a Jewish synagogue in that small town. Growing up to young manhood in my home town I numbered among my friends boys and girls from all those congregations. We didn't ask or care what faith a fellow had.
Tim Clancy had the fastest breaking curve, so he was the first string pitcher on our sandlot baseball nine. Hymie Greenspan was our catcher. He owned the only mitt, but he could nip a base stealer.
That's just one thing I'm fighting for - the continuance of my American, God-given privilege of choosing my own friends, and not having to be worked up into a regimented hatred of any one class, race or creed. I want to leave that heritage, which the Axis would deny, to my son and my daughter.
I am fighting for the continuing privilege of going to the polls on Election Day and by a clean, secret, honest ballot exercising my American franchise of voting for whomever and whatever I please. I want to leave that heritage to my children too.
I enjoy reading a good book and seeing a movie now and then. But I don't want anyone telling me what I must read or see, or denying me the right to pass my own judgment upon anything written or exhibited.
I like a peaceful, quiet day in the country, a picnic trip with my family. On such a time or on any occasion, I do not want to have to jump up and, with my wife and children, throw out my arm in a stiff salute and "Heil!" anybody or anything. As an American soldier, I give the military salute to my commissioned officers, but I am definitely not saluting them as individuals or as members of some master race. I am saluting the uniform they wear, and the flag that uniform represents and the gallant dead who gave their all to preserve for everything that the flag stands for. And every salute I render is returned by my Army officers in the same spirit, for we in the United States Army salute not man, but tradition - American tradition dating from 1776.
I am fighting for the right to root for Darmouth over Cornell, for the Brooklyn Dodgers - yes, for the right to boo "my" team sometimes or to yell "Blind robber!" at referees or umpires; to write a letter to the editor if I don't like the way the city garbage collector rattles cans in the early morning; to growl about income taxes; to demand that the congressman for whom I voted - or, for that matter, did not vote - vote for or against a certain legislative bill; to listen to my radio or shut it off, as I alone see fit - in short, to enjoy to the full all the rights and privileges which belong to me and mine as a free man, and to permit my countrymen to enjoy those privileges of long-established American way of life too.
It's worth fighting for and if need be, dying for.
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