As the wife of an active-duty Army officer I feel compelled to respond to the commentary by Mark Dvorak published on Sept. 16 ("Why we must protest national anthem protests," Opinion Exchange). I believe such commentary only furthers the nation's military-civilian divide while also misrepresenting what the military's role is for our country.

I married into a military family and have been an Army wife for 11 years. But just because I was not raised in a "military household" does not mean my parents were not proud of their country. In fact, they often spoke of their responsibilities as American citizens, like voting in elections and paying their taxes — things that contribute to the greater good for everyone, that make this country better for everyone.

This is why I find it perplexing that the military and veterans have been deemed the spokespeople for the American flag and national anthem. Do these not belong to every American? My husband and several of his family members took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, something that also belongs to every American, whether military member or not. That Constitution gives us one of our distinctive American rights — the freedom of speech.

I become disheartened when groups of Americans claim ownership to the flag and anthem over others. I agree with the author of the commentary in his point that "veterans served beside fellow Americans of all backgrounds." In many Army households across this great nation, flags fly outside all kinds of houses, no matter their occupants' race, ethnicity, socioeconomic background or even political affiliations. (Yes, there are plenty of Democrats in Army households, too.)

I believe the rights those soldiers fight for, including the freedom of speech and the right to assemble peacefully in protest, are what should be the focus of military members and veterans, not only the American flag and national anthem.

Courtney Marsh, Alexandria
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I respectfully disagree with the patriotism opinion piece. I am also a veteran. I love standing with others for the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before a game. It takes me back to boot camp graduation day when I and my shipmates stood at attention listening and contemplating what we had just accomplished and what the future held for us. For the most part, I have no idea what anyone else is thinking about. Except for the athlete who quietly kneels. I assume he/she is thinking this flag isn't working for me and I wish I could do something about it. I'm not offended by it. What does offend me is a team staying in the locker room until the anthem is over. Avoidance takes no guts at all.

Liz Schading, New Brighton
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The Minnesota American Legion doesn't represent all veterans. The group I served with in Vietnam was practically all drafted. Who wants to be a combat infantryman? We were sent to do a job few others wanted; many signed up for more time so they avoided combat. In my platoon were Black men from all over America, Native Americans from Oklahoma, one Hell's Angel from Chicago, Hispanic men from Texas to California, gang members from Detroit, backcountry men who received their first new boots when they were inducted. A group of men who had no choice but to go do their duty for God and country. Read Tim O'Brien's book "The Things They Carried" for an in-depth understanding.

I'm a two-time commander and carried the flag at the front of the parade and buried good men with the color guard.

Protest since the Boston Tea Party has shaped America more than any veterans' organization.

Jim Goudy, Austin, Minn.

Complex fixes for complex problems

In response to the letter to the editor in support of Kendall Qualls for the Third District ("Qualls is the candidate we need," Sept. 14) and his stance that two-parent families will fix the issues in Black and brown communities: This is far too simplistic to tackle racial injustice, a deeply embedded historical system of power. Our congressman Dean Phillips believes this injustice is real, and it's our collective responsibility to educate. We need to admit that we are all part of the problem, not just put the burden on Black and brown families, and commit to a campaign to understand, educate and make meaningful change. Phillips is an honest, compassionate, intelligent, hardworking congressman who is laser-focused on changing the dysfunction across the aisles and creating hope for our country.

Sarah S. Eigenmann, Plymouth

Biden certainly does have a plan

In her opinion piece " 'Follow the science' is a slogan, not a strategy" (Sept. 16), Faye Flam says Joe Biden is offering only a slogan in response to the pandemic. If she would check the website, she will find a seven-point plan with 23 very specific actions. That is a strategy. It even includes tactics.

Mark Pipkorn, Minneapolis

Players get tested while we don't

I have watched college football since I was old enough to see a game. As a fan and a graduate of the University of Minnesota, I am appalled that football will resume despite the ongoing pandemic ("Big Ten announces plan to resume football the weekend of Oct. 23-24,", Sept. 16). I live in a rural area where test kits are scarce, test results can take weeks, and personal protective equipment is in short supply. Rather than ensure that every Minnesotan has the tests and our health care workers are protected, the U has decided to divert resources that could be used by the average citizen to play a game. The decision is one that is motivated by pure greed, the cash cow that is college football.

The university is a public institution, funded by all of us. Yet we are deprived of lifesaving tools needed to keep us all safe. Living through the pandemic is not a game. So, I for one, will be tuning out the Gophers this year, as I hope that someday our rural community will have access to the same resources that are allocated to the sports teams solely to generate cash and allow the athletes to play like children. Shame on the U.

Kelly Dahl, Linden Grove Township, Minn.
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It's great news that logic and players' health has been kicked to the sidelines with the Big Ten reversing its decision to suspend the fall football season. An example of big-time college football logic is a quote from Louisiana State University coach Ed Orgeron describing the virus' impact on his team: "I think most, not all of our players, but most of our players have caught it. So hopefully they won't catch it again, and hopefully they're not out for games."

In addition to recouping some of the lost revenue from playing the games, the University of Minnesota can make extra money with new "row the ventilator" T-shirts.

Bruce Lemke, Orono

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