A show of pride, not prejudice

The Philadelphia police officer with his ancestry proudly tattooed on his arm has undergone fierce negative publicity after being mistakenly linked to the greatest horror of the last century ("Officer's tattoo assailed," Sept. 2).

The eagle depicted on Officer Ian Lichterman's arm was described as "an apparent Nazi-style tattoo." The Nazi-era German eagle bore a swastika; I did not see a swastika in the photo of the tattoo. The eagle has been a symbol of Germany dating to Charlemagne in 800. The word "Fatherland" is ingrained in the German culture, which I learned two years retiring from the Philadelphia Police Department. Touring Europe with my daughter, we were in Liechtenstein on its national holiday, which concluded with fireworks and the playing of "Für Gott und Vaterland," or "For God and the Fatherland."

A local explained that Vaterland is used in all German-speaking countries to refer to the homeland.

It's like Russians' affection for Mother Russia. Would Officer Lichterman be vilified if he were of Russian ancestry and sported a "Motherland" tattoo? I have no tattoos, but would images of a harp and shamrocks on my arm to display my Irish ancestry upset anyone? Probably not.

People should be more accepting of a person's culture and heritage before besmirching his or her good name.

|Martin J. Burns, Drexel Hill,

Critics should be more broad-minded

We all condemn the terrible 12-year period of the Third Reich in Germany and all its symbols. But the concept of Germany and its culture is much broader than that - a culture that represents the largest ancestral ethnic group in the United States. More Americans can trace their family tree to Germany than to any other country.

Is it wrong to be proud of this German connection? Is it wrong to refer to Germany as the fatherland? Some people think so.

Many young people love tattoos. A young, tattooed policeman is being vilified for his love of tattoos and his ethnic origin. This is clearly wrong. I kindly recommend to his critics that they do more historical research to broaden their horizons, and also try to learn more about tattoos. I would be happy to assist in these endeavors.

|Lou Oschmann, president, German-American Committee of Philadelphia,