Photos: Bob Barber enlisted in the U.S. Navy on his 18th birthday.
Guest Viewpoint: What are we fighting for?
BY BOB BARBER
It began as “All Men” in 1776 and then became the law of the land with “We the People” in 1789. That document, our Constitution, is arguably one of the most important documents of all time. It is the essence of what makes up The United States of America. Probably the most amazing feature of this document is the fact that our forefathers made it “adjustable."
It wasn’t until 1870 that black men were considered part of “We the People” and even then they were denied voting by racist literacy tests and poll taxes. It wasn’t until 1965, with the passage of the Voters Rights Act, that all black Americans were included as part of the Constitution’s first three words.
Let’s not forget about the ladies. They were not considered part of “We the People” until 1920 when women were granted the right to vote. They didn’t reach male voting numbers until around 1980.
During my high school years, I lived in North Jersey, only a few miles from where the Newark riots of the late 1960s occurred. Much to the chagrin of my guardian grandfather, my heroes were Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Grampy believed black folk were okay “as long as they don’t move into the neighborhood” and he thought that Vietnam protesters should be deported.
I joined the U.S. Navy on my 18th birthday and five weeks later, on June 28th, 1970, I took the Armed Services Oath at Newark International Airport:
I, Robert Arthur Barber, do solemnly swear, that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
I was shocked that there was no mention of fighting for our country or protecting her citizens!
The oath of office for the president is similar:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
At no time in my 65 years, from Ike to Barack, have I felt that a president was so misinformed about the nature of our freedoms as President Trump. He appears to have a blatant disregard and/or ignorance of freedom of the press, the justice system and freedom of speech.
Now I’m not here on Veterans Day to bash our Commander-In-Chief. He is trying real hard, bless his heart, but he and others provoked me by saying that black football players were disrespecting our military and veterans by taking a knee during the National Anthem.
I may be the only veteran who feels this way, but I refuse to be forced into a propaganda mold that says someone is disrespecting me by performing a peaceful protest. This is one veteran who believes that those football players and all peaceful protesters are a vital part of our fight to preserve the freedoms that we share as the greatest nation in the world. If they do not have that right, then our flag is just a piece of cloth and our anthem is just a pretty song. It is our duty to protest when we see injustice and racism. It is our duty to uphold the freedom of people to peacefully gather and protest.
Most of us, unfortunately, are missing the point. It cannot continue to be about us vs. them, Democrat vs. Republican, black vs. white, liberal vs. conservative.
It’s about every race, every creed and every color. It’s about men, women and children. It’s about LGBTs, the handicapped, young people, old people and everybody in between.
It’s what millions of Americans have fought and died for since 1776.
It’s the real never-ending war.
It’s what I fought for.
It’s what we should all be fighting for!
It’s called “We, the People!"
Bob Barber lives in Stony Point.