Letter to the Editor

Atlantic article letter

Monday, September 14, 2020

Last week's letter to the editor, "In Reference to the Recent Atlantic Article," struck a chord. As letters go, it tried to make a point, and drive it home with relevant examples. While I salute the writer's father for his obvious patriotism and devotion to his sense of duty, I don't share the sentiment that President Donald Trump "doesn't have a clue about what serving your country means." I doubt if she has walked a mile in the president's shoes, nor would she likely wish to do so. I, also, had a deferment during the beginning of the Vietnam War. I happened to be in the seminary at the time, and was deferred automatically. Upon leaving seminary studies in 1967, I was told I would no longer be deferred, and that it would be a matter of time before Uncle Sam had my number (in the draft). I chose to take my chances, complete college, and enroll in graduate school. Uncle called two months later. Trump, and many others had legitimate deferments: one was either granted it without seeking it, or one received it if he met established criteria. Was the desire to avoid service to country the issue? Each case had its own merits.

More and more I'm learning that we all have choices. "Service" has many definitions. Conscientious objection is not a crime, and it certainly can offer one a valid way to serve. Nor is having bone spurs. Factually, however, spurs or their cousin (plantar fasciitis), can be debilitating, painful with every step, and prevent one from drilling, going on forced marches and successfully completing "PT" (as in more PT, drill sergeant!). Thankfully, I didn't have plantar in the 1960s, but I do now. Having flat feet was also something that kept recruits from serving. Just saying.

Not knowing Trump's mindset 50-plus years ago, I am not prepared to judge him; nor should I. Having a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis, I can empathize. Wanting a strong military and pushing for legislation that enhances that through increased funding/pay raises, is a bona fide example of "serving one's country." There are many ways to serve, and military service is certainly one of them.

Bill Kersting, Spencer