By Jason Burge

I wrote a letter on March 16 that said, “I don’t mind true political discourse about policy and issues.” The gist of the argument is that too often letters that appear in The Bulletin contain a stream of consciousness rambling about Benghazi, Fast and Furious, Obamacare and socialism. This was the type of letter I was responding to when I last wrote a letter to The Bulletin.

Fast forward to Richard Berry’s reply on March 26, where he states, “Burge scoffs at Republicans’ mantra of Benghazi, Fast and Furious, Obamacare, income redistribution and freebies as if these aren’t important, unresolved events, in which many Americans were killed in the line of duty.” Obamacare, income redistribution and freebies are killing Americans in the line of duty? As I stated in my earlier response, “throwing all of these words together does not equal a coherent letter.”

Instead, this inflamed rhetoric is precisely the type of vile nonsense that passes the printable litmus test for our esteemed local paper. Did the editorial board ever try to figure out how income redistribution was killing Americans as stated so eloquently by Berry? No, they never thought twice about the accuracy of this statement.

I would have no reason to reply if that is where Berry stopped, however; he continued by saying that I refute “patriotism, Old Glory, honor, and duty.” I do not know Berry, and he certainly does not know me; however, this personal attack was allowed to make it through the screening process. He cannot judge my patriotism, honor and duty based on a 250-word letter to my local paper about executive orders.

Before moving here, my wife served in the United States Air Force since 1999. During her deployment overseas, she treated our young soldiers by the busloads with mental and physical wounds from the war. We lived in San Antonio and saw these brave men and women suffer through PTSD and physical wounds from our long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

People serving this country rely on the support of their patriotic families back home who appreciate their duty and sacrifice. Is it not honorable to help the husbands and wives of soldiers when their spouses deploy as I have done for more than a decade? As soon as one of our friends came back, we knew that it meant another friend was about to leave. Did I not learn about duty from my father, who served in Vietnam, or by my grandfathers who served before? Sadly, some people seem to think that only one party is patriotic and owns Old Glory. No real American would have such a shallow belief. We are a society made up of many different people who all fit under the umbrella of America.

The Bulletin has a fairly simple submission policy that can be found on its website and on the Opinion pages of this paper. No anonymous letters, word limits, a 30-day wait period and a policy to reject letters when they include personal attacks. While many of their own editorials speak of the failure of others, they tend to not admit when they themselves are in the wrong. In this case, Berry’s letter slipped by and I appreciate an opportunity to respond to his attacks on my character.

We may not vote the same way in May or November, but it is a mistake to assume that those with different political views are any less patriotic or have less of a claim to the American flag. The fact that we can have a peaceful transfer of power every two to four years is what makes this country so great. Another is that two patriots, with very different political beliefs, can have an open discussion in our free press.

God bless America!

— Jason Burge lives in Bend.