Wally Bowen is absolutely correct about the poem planned for the Veterans Memorial [“The Writing on the Wall,” Nov. 7], which wrongly attributes our freedoms of speech, the press, religion, assembly and voting entirely to the military.
The words to the poem, “It is the Veteran,” are not attributed to any author and have already been changed, as pointed out in [your article]. I suggest a further revision that would be much more accurate and positive and to which, I think, almost everyone could agree. Instead of “It is the VETERAN, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion” etc., I would substitute “as well as” for “not” and “who has fought for” rather than “who has given us.” Thus, the poem would read as follows:
It is the Veteran
It is the VETERAN, as well as the preacher,
who has fought for freedom or religion.
It is the VETERAN, as well as the reporter,
who has fought for freedom of the press.
It is the VETERAN, as well as the poet,
who has fought for freedom of speech.
It is the VETERAN, as well as the campus organizer,
who has fought for freedom to assemble.
It is the VETERAN, as well as the politician,
who has fought for the right to vote.
It is the VETERAN
who salutes the flag
who serves under the flag
whose coffin is draped by the flag.
Thank you Veterans!
— Fred Flaxman