EDITORIAL: The volume of patriotism

The York Dispatch
  • When Corney plays taps, people hear it for miles around, whether they appreciate it or not.
  • And he doesn’t seem to understand why they wouldn’t.

Glen Rock Councilman Joshua Corney has a ritual.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017--Joshua Corney stands near the elevated speakers behind his Glen Rock home. The speakers amplify the playing of taps each night as a tribute to troops. The active-duty Navy sailor is at the center of a controversy as some residents object to the practice. Bill Kalina photo

Every night at around 8 p.m. the active-duty Navy lieutenant commander plays a recording of taps, the military bugle call for “lights out” that also is  heard at military funerals.

He’s done it for nearly two years.

If that’s all there was to it, this would be a wonderful story of a military man who makes a point to honor, every day, those who serve, have served or will serve.

Patriotism or nuisance? Taps in Glen Rock causes controversy

It’s the fulfillment, Corney said, of a promise he made to himself if he returned home safe and sound from overseas deployments that included stints in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But Corney isn’t just popping in a cassette in his living room or syncing his iPhone to a Bluetooth speaker on his patio. His ritual isn’t reserved for him and his family and anyone who chooses to join them.

Corney’s recording blares from three massive loudspeakers mounted about 20 feet in the air on a utility pole in his backyard.

When Corney plays taps, people hear it for miles around, whether they appreciate it or not.

And he doesn’t seem to understand why they wouldn’t.

“I promise to play taps so that people can hear it, to remember and question," Corney told us last week after some of his neighbors reportedly complained that his ritual was violating the borough’s noise ordinance.

That, to our ears, sounds as if he might not think his neighbors are appreciative enough of service and sacrifice. They need to be reminded. Daily. In their homes.

We couldn’t tell you what’s in the hearts and minds of our neighbors, or what sacrifices they or their family members have made for this country.

For all we know, many Glen Rock residents have their own, private, ways of remembering those who have served.

We believe patriotism comes in many forms, and volume doesn’t make one more important than another.

Just because Corney’s neighbors don’t feel the need to broadcast their feelings, that doesn’t mean they’re un-American.

It might just mean they’re considerate.

Councilwoman Victoria Ribeiro said she planned address the issue at least week’s council meeting on behalf of many residents who are tiring of Corney’s nightly reminder. The item ultimately was pulled from the agenda.

She said they’re reluctant to speak publicly for fear of retaliation.

Yes, we’ve seen the comments on social media about this issue. There are more than 100 on Facebook, and almost all are supportive of Corney.

“It’s his right” is a common theme.

Would it still be his right if he was playing the same polka music every night? How about some AC/DC, NWA or Neil Diamond? Could he play it later, louder or more often?

And if it’s Corney’s right, doesn’t that mean it’s everyone’s right? It seems as if every resident could mount loudspeakers on a pole and blast whatever tune they choose, any time they like.

Are there any limits at all?

But this is taps ...

It doesn’t matter.

Play any tune — including “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “America, the Beautiful” or “Amazing Grace” — loud enough often enough and it’s going to grate on people’s nerves.

It’s also likely to ruin any appreciation they had for the music or the sentiment behind it.

We doubt very much that’s what Corney intends.

There has to be a compromise — maybe something involving volume, timing or frequency — to help keep the peace in Glen Rock.