Las Vegas Sun

October 8, 2015

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Letter to the readers:

A patriot by any other name

As the Fourth of July nears, what does it mean to be an American?

Dear reader,

I received an email this week from someone I’ll call “Joe.” The email was filled with rumors, innuendos and outright lies about various people and political figures, attacking not only their positions but also their patriotism. I’ve received plenty of emails like this, but what made this remarkable was its breadth and ferocity.

Perhaps most noticeable was how Joe argued that anyone who disagrees with him was anti-American. Without directly saying so, he holds that his beliefs are the traditional American values, thus anyone who disagrees with him is wrong. Of course, he was an apparent expert on American values; I know because he signed the letter “Patriot Joe.”

I should note that his American values weren’t just baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet, nor were they the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. His values include his interpretation of the Constitution as well as his belief about what it means to be an American.

Fair enough. That’s America. We’re all entitled to our opinions, and thanks to the genius of the Founding Fathers and the First Amendment, we can air them. I’m not intending to start an argument with Joe (or you). I have no doubt he is a patriot and that he loves our country. But that doesn’t mean that his view or his belief is the definition of what it means to be an American, and it’s bothersome to hear people tar political opponents as communists, fascists or anti-American because they have a political disagreement.

Americans come from different backgrounds and beliefs. Their love of country shouldn’t be questioned just because they have a different viewpoint.

The Fourth of July is next week, and I’ll celebrate it with more than a barbecue and fireworks. I’ll spend some time talking to my children about our country, and I’ll mention some great Americans.

I’m going to skip most of the big names — they’ll get those in the history books. I’ll tell them about people I’ve known. Some of those people served in the military. Some ran businesses, others ran for office, but most led lives that didn’t land them in the headlines. They paid their bills, paid attention to the issues, voted and raised families. In the process, they built the country.

Politically, I haven’t been on the same page as all of them. In some cases, I was adamantly opposed to what they believed. But they believed honestly in their views and they believed in this country and their fellow citizens. In my book, that makes them patriots — even if they’re on what I see as the wrong side of the issue.

But that’s my view, which I’m entitled to. What do you think? To you, what does it mean to be an American? Who are some of the great Americans in your book? What do you do to celebrate the Fourth of July?

You can send your thoughts and questions to: “America” c/o Letters to the editor, Las Vegas Sun, 2360 Corporate Circle, Third Floor, Henderson, NV 89074. Or send a letter via email: Or fax: (702) 383-7264. We’d love to run some of your views next week.

God bless America,

Patriot Matt

Matt Hufman is editor of the editorial and opinion pages. Twitter: @MattattheSun.

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