My Turn: Freedom of speech must be respected

Wendel Sloan

Tonight I will join thousands in watching Portales’ fireworks.

Although I am not a knee-jerk “America: Love It or Leave It” type, I revere the freedom that Independence Day celebrates.

While I agree with some of our government’s military decisions, and disagree with others—especially when I think that better options could have been explored–I always venerate those serving.

Protesters and those not serving by conscience also receive my respect.

It is ironic to criticize citizens for exercising freedoms which our servicemen and women have fought, and sacrificed their bodies and lives, to preserve. Seldom will you hear past or present military members doing the criticizing.

It especially disturbs me to hear protesters called cowards. There is nothing cowardly or unpatriotic in standing up to mob scorn for taking unpopular positions which may actually reflect more noble principles of our country.

So as we enjoy the camaraderie of watching multi-colored “bombs bursting in air” with our multi-colored and multi-opinionated compatriots, let’s remember the fireworks’ majestic symbolism: 234 years after declaring independence from a power denying us liberty, we are living in a grand experiment where our freedom of expression is limited only by our failure to think independently.