The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States guarantees that individuals cannot be compelled by the government to provide incriminating information about themselves. It provides the so-called “right to remain silent.”
This is the wording: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” 
Most of us are somewhat familiar with the “witness against himself” clause, but the Fifth Amendment was a reaction against the summary punishments and other injustices inflicted on colonists by British authorities. Note the exception for military cases; in war law-enforcement has to be “streamlined” due to the awful urgency of battle. Military law has always been separate from civilian statutes. The last line in the amendment joins the Fourth Amendment in protecting private property.
Independence Day commemorates the day our young nation declared its sovereignty – a condition that we had to emphasize with two wars with Britain. So-called “cancel culture” is trying to blot out this and many other events in our history. Don’t let them do it! It’s our job to keep our history alive and pass it to future generations.
This year the Fourth of July falls on a Sunday and will be observed on Monday. The annual Independence Day Parade in Houston will take place at 6 p.m. this Saturday (June 26), and from 4 to 7 p.m. on that day, our American Legion Post will be hosting a Freedom-Dog Barbecue with a thousand quality frankfurters, chips and bottled water provided free for all comers until we run out. We’ll be located at the Lone Star Plaza in Houston during the parade (between First Street and Grand Avenue). Also present will be Ron Jones, the director of the Military Museum in Houston, ready to award Vietnam Commemorative Medallions and certificates to veterans who served in any capacity during the Vietnam War. He will also have a supply of pocket-sized copies of the U.S. Constitution for anyone who wants one.

Veterans organizations in Houston:
•American Legion Post 41 meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the meeting hall on the west end of Chilton Oil Company in Houston (just north of Pizza Hut). Changes to membership eligibility now allow U.S. veterans of all branches and periods of service to join the American Legion.
•Fleet Reserve Association Branch 364 meets at 2:30 p.m. on the fourth Sunday of each month at the American Legion Post 41 meeting hall in Houston. The FRA exists to serve all veterans and active-duty members of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard.

Houston resident Robert E. Simpson is a retired U.S. Navy chief electronics technician who served from 1969 to 1990. Email

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