(Alyssa and Todd: below is our revised article. If possible, please do not make any changes to it – unless we mispelled our names, punctuation, or somethign like that ! If you have any questions, please let me know. Thank you )

Two weeks ago, the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) unit painted the tunnels with Navy and Marine Corps quotations, pictures, and mottos. We had a great time during the event, taking pride in our efforts, as any group would. Sometime over the weekend, graffiti was written over our work. When we, and other members of our battalion, saw this, we reacted in the same way any other group would: shocked and dismayed.

There were two incidents of someone defacing our work. The first, a picture of a submarine firing a missile with the words, “To Osama, with Love” painted next to it, had the words “What can we hope to create out of devices designed solely to destroy?” painted on top. The second involved a picture of two planes dropping bombs on little stick figures with the writing “You Know Who” beside it. On top of this was spray-painted a peace sign.

As future Navy and Marine Corps officers, we take seriously the situation that our country is in. Our goal in the tunnels was to, through the use of cartoons and various sayings, express our passion about the Navy and Marine Corps and our support for our fellow servicemen. If passersby felt angered or insulted then they misinterpreted the meaning behind our message.

Despite what many may think, military personnel are not advocates of unjustified war or violence. Our motivation for fighting comes not from our desire to inflict unnecessary harm or punishment, but to defend our way of life. We firmly believe in the ideals of democracy, the most basic of which is the right to freedom of speech. We hold this belief so strong that we are willing to put our lives on the line in order to defend your right to think and promote that which you believe in.

When we see a peaceful expression of a belief being shared with others, it is a firm reminder of why we have joined the military. We may not always agree with the views being conveyed, but we still value them, for they serve as a constant reminder of what makes democracy worth fighting for. What we do take offense to is when our freedom of speech is disrespected. Voicing your thoughts and opinions is your right, but when you do so at the expense of someone else’s it is not freedom of speech, it is vandalism.

As both members of the military and students of the University of Rochester, we deserve, as every other group does, to have our beliefs and expressions of those beliefs be respected. We don’t ask that you like what we have to say, but we do expect that our mural be left alone and not turned into a bulletin board for public discourse.

Amy Shutt, Midshipman 1/C, Class of 2002Max Cooper, Midshipman 2/C, Class of 2003

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