I received some information this past week in response to one of my columns that recently appeared in the paper.

At first I was pleased that my words inspired someone to take such action. However, my enthusiasm was quickly dampened when I realized the person who had sent me the letter and materials had done so anonymously.

I carefully checked the letter, but there was no name or signature to be found on it. In addition, there was also no return address, indicating the author of the correspondence had most assuredly intended to keep their identity hidden when they mailed the information to me.

For that reason, I'm not going to go into specifics about the information I received. Instead, I'm going to talk about the importance of identifying yourself under such circumstances.

You'll notice in each of these columns is my name - of course - as well as my picture. I'm very proud of each of these columns - even the ones that are less than a sterling effort - and I stand behind every word that I say. Sometimes I might be wrong - that's the chance one takes when stating your opinions publicly - but I take great pride in the fact that you know who I am and am willing to take my lumps if I'm in error.

But sadly, there are many people who want to have their say, and yet at the same time not take the responsibility for it by hiding behind the veil of anonymity. Nor is this a recent thing. Throughout my career as a journalist, I've seen people send in Letters to the Editor without their names on them, even though the paper's policy clearly states that anonymous letters will not be published. More times than I can count I've heard people rant and rail at government meetings about various issues - making all kinds of disparaging remarks - but when I ask these people their identities they refuse to cooperate "because they don't want their names in the paper."

I sigh and shake my head under such circumstances. Because in most cases, the reason these people don't want to give their names isn't due to the fact they are in fear for their lives or well-being; it's instead simply because they don't want to draw possible disapproval from their friends and neighbors, if said friends and neighbors disagree with them.

But what these people always overlook is that those who don't have the courage stand up and be counted are not respected by those who do. Something that is published or said anonymously never carries the same weight as an article or a statement made in which the author's identity is known.

Now, I know I'm probably going to get a "Yes, but..." on this. "Yes, but I could lose my job..." "Yes, but I could lose friends..." "Yes, but it wouldn't do any good anyway, and they would all conspire against me." Etc. I've heard it all before.

To that I reply - more than 200 years ago, a group of courageous men each put their signatures on a document, outlining their grievances and the reasons for their actions to the governing body. All the men involved knew that if their endeavor failed, that document would be their passport to the gallows. But, because those men had the courage to stand up and put their signatures to that piece of paper - declaring for all to see and read their feelings and opinions on the matter - the United States of America came into being, and the Declaration of Independence is now considered one the most important political documents in the world.

C.J. Marshall is a writer/columnist for The Daily Review. He can be reached at cjmarshall@thedailyreview.com; or (570) 265-1630.