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Serving Your Country

Regardless of your opinion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, you should wince when you read this letter in today’s Boston Globe:

THE EXTENSIVE news coverage
provided to the injury of ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman
Doug Vogt (Page A1, Jan. 30 and 31) is a testimonial to the misplaced
priority of the media.

These men are in Iraq not in service to their country but rather to
serve their media employers and the public who follow those media.

the media to provide equivalent coverage to the fates of the brave
soldiers doing their duty in support of their country, they would be
doing a far more worthwhile service to this country.

This is not to say that Woodruff and Vogt are not to be respected
for doing their jobs in a highly dangerous environment. But the
significant overplay for these two gentlemen is a clear distortion of
the roles and priorities of news media personnel as opposed to the
military men and women who routinely place their lives in danger for
our benefit.

FRANK POWERS, Boxborough 

Why equate "service to country" with service to government?  Are only those Americans whose paychecks are drawn on the U.S. Treasury serving fellow citizens?

Of course, we can define "country" to mean only "government."  But then what would we mean when we speak of fellow countrymen?  Or when we speak of the U.S. being a free country?

In a society of free and civilized persons, everyone whose services are voluntarily paid for — or whose services are given freely to others and can be voluntarily accepted or rejected by others — serve their country, serve others, more surely than do those whose paychecks are drawn on government treasuries.

Pizza-delivery boys, tax accountants, emergency-room physicians, Wal-Mart greeters, construction workers, dog groomers, massage therapists, private security guards, Red Cross volunteers, and on and on — such people serve others.  Their services are no less real than are those of any government employee you name.  Indeed, because private-sector workers satisfy demands voluntarily expressed by others — unlike government workers who are paid from funds forcibly extracted from others — a powerful case can be made that private-sector workers truly serve their country far more surely than do government workers.


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