It was disturbing to read (guest column, Aug. 11) that Don Kaltschmidt, chairman of the Montana Republican Party, continues to promote the Vietnam-era slogan, “America: Love it or leave it.” As a Vietnam veteran, I could also spout jingoistic rhetoric and tell anyone who disagrees with me to go away. But I will not do that.
Why? Because I served the government of the United States and not the government of the USSR, China, Saudi Arabia or some other country in which dissent was unwelcome. I think many other veterans will agree that they served their country not to impose their own political views on their fellow citizens, but to help ensure that that their fellow citizens could continue to express their diverse points of view without censure or retribution. My preferred slogan would be “America: Love it or work to improve it” or perhaps “America: Love it or make it live up to the principles on which it was founded.” Being a patriot does not necessitate pretending that one’s country is perfect.