February 7, 2002
This being the opening used by many “letters to the … ,” one that I grew up reading as a young man by a locally famous, or possibly infamous, depending on your stance, Aspenite known as Freddie Fisher.
I chose Freddie, because he seemed to frequently be at odds with the sentiment of the local populus, and having just arrived Monday for my 33rd year I, too, have been charmed and mildly galled with the views of its most vocal.
To the point. Your Feb. 5 Aspen Times, page three, has a beautiful photo of the American flag “atop the Elks Building,” which immediately caught my eye. The caption beneath – “Unflagging patriotism” – gave me pause, however.
“Who wrote the caption,” I wondered, and more importantly, was it the sentiment of the masses who call Aspen and your circulation home? My question to you is, why wouldn’t American flags fly throughout Aspen? Does it conjure images that offend rather than inspire? Perhaps my sentiment or negativity are misplaced and you could clear this matter up with a thoughtful rebuttal.
You see, I have had the honor of serving my country for the past 11 years in the United States Navy. I have served with men that have died for their country and never gave the chance of dying a second thought.
As Naval aviators, we never had time for these thoughts while catapults fired us off the end of “the boat” into the blackest night you will fortunately never see. Bosnia, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan, and other little garden spots that aren’t trendy topics of discussion at popular parties, we traveled to for our country’s wishes.
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Of course we volunteered for this duty freely and did it to the best of our ability, asking nothing in return, other than the knowledge that we had done it well in the eyes of our fellow aviators and shipmates.
I only share these last few sentences with you to lend credibility to my soapbox.
So was it just me who picked up on the caption that accompanied the photo on Tuesday, or did others, who feel the way I do, think the same thing?
My mother always said, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” The cloud caused by the attacks of Sept. 11 had a silver lining. It showed the core of what is “America.” It demonstrated that a people in this country of diversity could form a coalition of solidarity unseen in the past 50 years.
I hope sublime remarks like these in your paper and others that are emerging are not exposing our soft-cynical underbelly to pre-9/11 thought. What a tragedy that would be, lest we vainly forget those souls who died on that ironically beautiful September day.
Furloughed airline pilot