Sunday, November 05, 2006

All or Nothing....Again?

Being out of town has its advantages, one of which is that I don’t follow the news while attempting to enjoy myself. So I got to miss most of the John Kerry “botched joke” fire storm.

Let me preface my remarks with some qualifiers. I am an Air Force brat, my father served over twenty years. My ex-husband served in the Army. My ex-father-in-law served three tours of duty in Vietnam with the Marines. Two of my brothers served in the Army and Air Force. My son is currently serving in the Navy. Jason is an Air Force veteran. I seriously, seriously, considered enlisting in the Air Force after receiving my BSN degree, and the sole reason I did not enlist was legal issues with custody of my son.

I have great respect for our nation’s military forces. So much so that I believe there should be a minimum one year mandatory service for all American citizens at age 18. I think that fulfilling a mandatory year of service in non-combat roles (unless the person wanted to continue on in the service and chose that route) would instill discipline, the ability to work in a team, a sense of self-pride in having accomplished something difficult and establish a bond, a working understanding of the military and how important it is to our country.

Okay. We got that out of the way. On to John Kerry’s stupid remark. It was idiotic. It was idiotic if he meant it as a “joke” against Bush, it was idiotic if he meant it as many eagerly rushed to announce he meant it.

I have railed against this “all or nothing” mindset we have in this country before. Here is a truth: the military is a microcosm of American society.

There are stupid people in the military. There are smart people in the military. There are patriots in the military. There are people trying to get out of trouble in the military. There are people looking for help with college funding in the military. There are people doing their “time” with an eye to the future and how it will look on their records to have served. There are poor kids, middle class kids, and wealthy kids in the military.

It is an insult to them that Kerry used them in any type of joke.

It is an insult to them that the media jumped on the “he meant everyone one in the military is stupid” bandwagon.

But now we are fighting over whether or not our troops are stupid and not looking at the fact that our troops are sitting ducks over there. That they are dying and being maimed over there and it looks more and more like it is all just because Bush cannot accept responsibility for his poor Decider skills and admit that we need a new plan.

Can we stop fighting amongst ourselves long enough to save the lives and arms and legs and eyes of those young men and women who we are so loudly proclaiming we believe are heroes and patriots?


Vera said...

I served in the Air Force, and I saw all kinds of people in the military.

Kerry's remark was short-sighted and stupid, and I don't see how it a joke on Bush. Still, I don't think he meant to disrepect the military. I think he was so focused on slamming Bush, he didn't think how silly his remark would come out.

I'm with you on the mandatory service requirement. America belongs to all its citizens and we should all contribute to its defense.

Agricola said...

Although we do not often agree, I heartily second your idea of a form of national service for all. It is past time for our citizens to begin to give back to the country, in whatever form that service takes. Imagine the energy and creativity that could be unleashed if our 18 & 19 year olds could participate in national service.

jaz said...

The national service idea is interesting, though I personally would not want the only option to be military. Maybe an Americorps style program could be added to the service plan?

Having the nation's 18 and 19 year olds restore American cities, building houses, planting crops, learning useful skills and trades - maybe coming to realize along the way that life isn't just about them - that I could stand behind.

Not only would it benefit our cities but it would have the added benefit of providing direction and building confidence.

Too many kids (often from disadvantaged families) hit adulthood not having a clue what is expected of them. Not everyone has a loving mommy and daddy paging through college catalogs with their little darling, preparing them for life on their own. A lot of kids grow up with parents who are either not there at all or who refuse to be bothered with the damn little brat.

Maybe it is time for a new in loco parentis policy.