I'm sorry, but no individual has to do anything to earn their individual rights.
Every person who has ever been born has earned all the rights that are due to sovereign individuals: the right of free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, the right to vote, and so on.
Regarding the proposed poem, it appears to pit military service members against the individual with fallacious assertions.
It is the VETERAN, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion
It is the VETERAN, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press
It is the VETERAN, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech
It is the VETERAN, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble
It is the VETERAN, not the politician, who has given us 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.
It's as though the implied opening assertion is: "Contrary to what everybody has been saying..."
I object to this poem, in any version, being permanently inscribed on a veteran memorial; primarily because it is defensive and reactionary. It mysteriously refers to claims that have not been made and attempts to answer them angrily.
This is not how I think of veterans. I think of veterans as a noble class of warriors who have volunteered to defend their nation and it's values; regardless of the folly in to which service they are pressed.
Unfortunately, very few military engagements can claim a legitimate national defense purpose. The current war in Iraq is only the most current example.
As the great anti-war activist John Lennon used to say: War is over, if you want it.
"Veterans withdraw controversial poem, propose new inscription" by David Forbes, Mountain Xpress, 12/21/2007.
Ron Paul on the Stephanie Miller Radio Show, December 6, 2007.