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Americans died for the rights we squabble about today

Last week, I missed something.

In the midst of the start of hurricane season and all the news surrounding the protest march for George Floyd in town last Friday, I forgot Saturday was the observance of one of the major events in history — D-Day. And I owe all D-Day veterans an apology.

The invasion of Normandy was one of the major battles of World War II. The successful landings led to the defeat of Nazi Germany and the end of an oppressive, tyrannical regime bent on world domination.

The men who landed on the beaches of Normandy and fought their way through Europe, just like the veterans who fought the Japanese in the Pacific, protected our country and our freedoms from regimes bent on destroying the experiment our founding fathers developed in the wake of winning independence from England.

That experiment is still alive and well, despite the efforts by some over the years to diminish them.

I’ve thought about those freedoms recently as I’ve watched the events surrounding the protests of George Floyd’s death.

The majority of the people who took to the streets over the past few weeks were exercising their rights to voice their displeasure over the untimely and vicious death of a man at the hands of several police officers.

I say majority because obviously some of the people out in the streets were using the protests as an excuse to destroy property and steal; their motives were purely selfish and childish, and such behavior is unacceptable.

A good example of how to do a protest march was last Friday in Vicksburg. The organizers of the march did it right, from meeting with city officials to keeping everything in focus. From what I saw, the crowd was well behaved, and they need to be commended for their behavior.

Under the First Amendment people have the right of freedom of expression to air our grievances, whether it’s marching in protest addressing a complaint at a public meeting, taking a knee or remaining seated during the National Anthem.

It’s a right we should be proud of and defend, because only through exercising our rights can we create an atmosphere for positive change, even if people on the right or the left disagree.

I once read a book called “Free Speech for Me but not for Thee,” which discussed how both liberal and conservative organizations work to deny people whose views don’t coincide with theirs the right to express their views. This is something that should never happen.

It’s that right our fathers, grandfathers and uncles fought for from 1941-45, and it’s something we should never let die.

And there’s something I’ve found interesting.

Ever since the Floyd protests, there have been references to Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling for the National Anthem, especially in the light of comments made by Saints quarterback Drew Brees. I’ve read letters to the editor from veterans in the Baton Rouge Advocate saying Kaepernick’s actions were among the First Amendment rights they fought for. That’s something worth thinking about.

 

John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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