Monday, December 05, 2005


My grandson, Josh, has fallen under the spell of an Army recruiter. He has gone from the status of a school dropout to a rightwing hero in the time it took to sign a contract for six years in military service.

The recruiter promised Josh he would not see combat. He told Josh he would not have to undergo boot camp. Instead, he said, Josh will undergo a four month program of training to become a computer analyst. After this training, he will make $68,000 during the first year of his service. In the second year, this salary doubles.

The recruiter had a Sergeant with him who, lo and behold, happened to be a computer analyst pulling down about $200, 000 a year. The Sergeant told Josh what a gloriously happy experience it is to "be a man" and serve his country.

Josh is a boy who has experienced great difficulties. His parents are divorced and his mother suffers from alcoholism. Josh was brought up by his wonderful maternal grandmother, alternately staying with her and with his mother and her boyfriends. He has maintained a good relationship with his father, but dropped out of school to be "home schooled", which is frequently another word for leisurely living.

Now, this boy, who barely scraped through the 10th Grade in high school and who cannot read or write properly, is supposedly going to breeze through computer training to earn big bucks as an analyst. But you know and I know that Josh will end up on the streets of Baghdad, praying that the Humvee isn't torn to pieces by a bomb.

Why are these people allowed to feed this kind of nonsense into the heads of immature, often rebellious young boys? There has to be a special hell for people like this, yet I have a nephew who has spent several years as a recruiter, hated the job, prayed for deliverance from his duties, and couldn't entice his quota of new recruits. So I guess we cannot blame the young men who are told to do a job....or can we?

We are fighting a War in which no one wants to fight. The poor souls who were caught early on were unfortunate enough to end up in Iraq and have stayed in Iraq, sometimes for two or three tours of duty. But new recruits are hard to find, simply because most people do not want to crawl around the desert fighting Arabs, especially Arabs without uniforms, without identification as fighters. It is a guerilla war, and we all know the story of how it was started. It's a disgrace.

There was a time when everyone said that military service would "make a man out of you". That was before women were allowed into combat, when we had the WACS and the WAVES, I believe it was, and women were delegated to secretarial chores or nursing. So the way to "become a man" was to join up. And, when World War II started, the boys couldn't wait to get old enough to join the service. Sometimes they joined at 17, their parents signing for them.

That was the day of true patriotism, not the false, Evangelically-smeared kind we have today that just fosters indignation instead of pride and dignity. Back then, we all worked in the war effort. My father collected tin foil. I collected money for gift packages for the soldiers. We proudly donated our milkweed pods for the creation of parachutes, since silk was a casualty of the War with Japan. We all endured the rationing of gas, sugar and other items. No one went around with signs saying "Support the Troops" back then. Everybody supported them. We didn't need reminders. We didn't have an angry group telling us how to feel or behave or believe!

Somehow, it seems ridiculous to me to wage a war that no one wants to fight. It seems to me that it is high time we got out of that war and brought our people home. There, they will have another struggle to confront....getting jobs and surviving in a chaotic world. Adjustment will not be easy for them.

So, I will say farewell to Josh and wish him well. And I will hope that this farewell hug is not the last I will ever give him. I will tell him that I am sorry we have sunk so low that recruiters have to lie to impressionable young boys. I will tell him that my fondest dream is of a peaceful America and that, as far as terrorism goes, I would rather face them together rather than send him out for them to target. The "Over There instead of Here" argument doesn't hold much water for me! Nor do I believe Josh is heading for a "Noble Cause".

But there's nothing I can do but accept what fate....and George Bush...has handed us....and write a letter to Cindy Sheehan and tell her to keep up the pressure. It won't change things, but if enough of us see the utter insanity of fighting this war, it just might help.

Blogger Kev said...

You are going to get yourself assested and sent to Canada... : )

Love Kevin

1:21 PM  

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