Oped: Local veteran takes issue with editorial

Walter Reamer, York County

Your editorial board op-ed 'Nostalgia is not history' got my attention. I agreed with what you wrote in the first half of the piece, but then you went off in a different direction and lost me completely.

Walter Reamer

You started by reporting that a new Revolutionary War museum recently opened in Philadelphia, containing some exhibits that heretofore had never been seen.

According to you, one exhibit was about a black slave named Mumbet, who lived in Massachusetts. When the Revolutionary War began, she heard someone read the Declaration of Independence aloud. She realized that the lofty words, "all men are created equal" were a meaningless sham if they did not also apply to her. She apparently sued her master in court to obtain her freedom, and won, and the case served as precedent for the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts.

You are right when you say stories like this need to be told. They certainly do. They are important threads in the tapestry of our country's history and omitting them, for whatever reason, is a grievous mistake.

But then you went on to proclaim that stories about our country's military and battle history are a waste of time — an exercise of "primarily white male nostalgia." You said "the study of our battle history is a nostalgic pastime for.....primarily older white men for whom our history is about diners and muscle cars".

I guess you were referring to people like me. I'm male, I'm white, I'm 72, and yes, I read about this country's military history. Actually, I try to read a book about some facet of our nation's history each month. And in the course of my reading, I have discovered something that you people on the editorial board have apparently missed: our military history is a huge, vital and indivisible part of the tapestry of our nation's history. It should not be ignored or trivialized by you or anybody else.

Whether you like it or not, our country's history includes the story of conflict, turmoil and unfortunately, war. It includes the stories of tens of thousands of American men and women — white, black, native American, hispanic, asian — who have served in this country's armed forces. We, and our stories, are a part of this nation's history that you apparently would prefer to criticize, minimize and forget.

All those people — from the Continental Army in the 1700s to today's military personnel: you would like to write them and us off as a mere nostalgic exercise? Let's get something straight: we didn't do it for glory or to be part of a museum exhibit. We served because we believed it was our duty as citizens.

You people on the editorial board have made it abundantly clear that you find war distasteful. I have news for you: so did we. But we enlisted or were drafted, and we served nonetheless. (Another point that you apparently do not understand: we who served in this country's military forces weren't doing it to demand our rights. We were doing it to preserve, protect and defend yours.)

Some of us fought, some of us bled, some of us died. And you people on the editorial board say studying our military history is nothing more than an exercise in nostalgia? Are you serious? If that op-ed was an accurate reflection of your editorial board members' values, you should all be ashamed of yourselves.

— Walter P. Reamer, Lieutenant Colonel, United States Air Force, retired.