Popular tribute from Canadian broadcaster shared by many

| 9/25/2001

Canadian broadcaster Gordon Sinclair's now famous editorial words sure seem to fit the current crisis in America. While many are under the impression that it was inspired by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the words were actually written in 1973 and prompted by America's controversial involvement in Vietnam.

Sinclair was a radio commentator and the story is he decided he'd had enough of the stream of bad press and stinging criticisms directed at the United States by foreign journalists over America's long military involvement in Vietnam. When Sinclair wrote the editorial, the Vietnam War had ended with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords but the negative press continued throughout the world.

According to sources, when he arrived at radio station CFRB in Toronto that morning, he spent 20 minutes dashing off a two-page editorial defending the United States against its carping critics, which he then delivered in a defiant, indignant tone during his "Let's Be Personal" radio spot.

The unusualness of any foreign correspondent -- even one from a country with such close ties to the United States as Canada -- delivering such a caustic commentary about those who would dare to criticize the United States is best demonstrated by the fact that even 30 years later, a generation of Americans too young to remember Sinclair's broadcast doubt that this piece (which has been circulating on the Internet in the slightly-altered form quoted above as something "recently" printed in a Toronto newspaper) is real. It is real, and it received a great deal of attention in its day.

After Sinclair's editorial was rebroadcast by a few American radio stations, it spread quickly. During the late 70s, it was played again and again (often superimposed over a piece of inspirational music such as "Battle Hymn of the Republic" or "Bridge Over Troubled Waters"), read into the Congressional Record multiple times, and finally released on a record (titled "The Americans") with all royalties donated to the American Red Cross.

Published articles report that a Windsor/Detroit radio broadcaster named Byron MacGregor recorded and released an unauthorized version of the piece which hit the record stores before Sinclair's official version; an infringement suit was avoided when MacGregor agreed to donate his profits to the Red Cross as well.

Sinclair passed away in 1984, but he will long be remembered on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border -- both for his contributions to journalism, and for his passionately written tribute in defense of America. It's unfortunate that Sinclair is not alive to find his inspirational words are being shared once more by so many.