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Krug: All you can say is thank you

Thank you, Sgt. Jason A. McLeod.

We never met. And I am pretty sure that we never crossed paths, even though McHenry County is a relatively tightknit place where everyone seems to know everyone or knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows everyone.

The face in your photo looks familiar, though. We might have bumped into each other at the Culver’s once, but I can’t say that for sure. You look like a good kid – someone who came from a good family and had good friends.

At a time when talk is cheap and there is no shortage of chatter, you did more than talk. You put your country ahead of everything else and served the nation with honor. After graduating from Crystal Lake Central, you enlisted in the Army. You served in Iraq. And then you went to Afghanistan.

It’s not right that you died there from mortar fire Nov. 23. At the very least, it’s not fair. You should have lived a full life with your wife, Aimee, and your daughter, Jocelyn, surrounded by friends and family right here. People should start living when they are 22.

Those who serve know what could come their way. That’s why soldiers are heroes. They run toward danger when most others run away from it. They exemplify true bravery.

Our country has been at war for nearly nine years. Some question that fight. Only a fool would question those in the fight, though.

Thank you, Sgt. Jason A. McLeod.

Thank you for serving our country.

Thank you for doing your part to fight for freedom.

Thank you. We are forever in your debt.

• • •

The right to speak: We have this thing in America called the Constitution. Lots of articles. Some amendments, too.

It’s basically a list of rules. And we need rules, because after we broke away from England – as Bill and Ted so aptly articulated while in the throes of their excellent adventure – if we didn’t get some cool rules ourselves pronto, we’d be bogus.

Now as you wade through the Constitution, it’s important to start at the beginning and read all the way through to the end. It’s not exactly John Grisham, but it’s a compelling read. If you do finish the document, you’ll have to keep in mind that it’s not a buffet menu. And those who interpret it on an a la carte basis typically get indigestion. And deserve it.

That said, what happened last week with Northern Illinois University Professor Marc Falkoff’s scheduled speech at McHenry County College should give us all a wicked case of agita.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I couldn’t care less whether Guantanamo Bay detainees were carving poems into Styrofoam cups at Club Fed. I wouldn’t read those poems in a car, or on a star, over here or over by dere. I wouldn’t read them anywhere.

But if you want to read that book, go ahead and, by all means, read it. That, my friend, is your constitutional right.

And if you want to hear Falkoff talk about his book, “Poems from Guantanamo: Where is the world to save us from torture?”, or chat about his experience defending enemy combatants in Gitmo, have at it. It’s his right to talk about it. It’s your right to go and to listen, to stay home and play checkers, or to show up on public property and appropriately protest those who want to talk about Gitmo or to protest those who want to listen to it.

It is not your right to call Falkoff and threaten him and his family if he shows up to talk. It also is not your right to call the college and threaten it for having the audacity to bring a speaker into the auditorium. And it is not your right to squelch free speech.

I don’t know that I would have traded a night in front of the TV watching “The Office” and “30 Rock” to listen to Falkoff. Check that: I know I wouldn’t have.

But that doesn’t mean that he should be prevented from coming to McHenry County and telling his story, or for people who might be interested in the law, Gitmo or poetry to show up and listen.

Falkoff has said that he would reschedule the event and perhaps might actually come to MCC. Regardless, he appears today on our Opinion page and writes about what he would have talked about had his right to free speech not been stymied.

• • •

Worth a read: It’s easy to worry about the state of the world when looking at it through the short lens of your own experience. Still worried about the nation, our economy and everything else that cable TV needs you to fear to cling to its ratings?

Well, when you are finished reading Falkoff’s guest column, make sure you check out 96-year-old reader Helen Polich’s Letter to the Editor on our Opinion page.

She’s seen a few things in her time. Let her set you straight, calm your fears and, in short, make you feel like living well past 96.

• • •

And finally … : Only 19 days until Santa.

You’d better be good for goodness’ sake.

• Chris Krug is executive editor of the Northwest Herald. Contact Chris by calling 815-459-4122 or via e-mail at ckrug@nwherald.com. Keep up with Chris’ rants, raves and insights by following ChrisKrug (no space) at Twitter.com.

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