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.