military out of our public schools
By Tim Martin
October 18, 2012 "Information
- In 1966, when I was a senior at Fortuna High,
military recruiters were a fixture at our school. They made
regular appearances in their dress uniforms with all their
pleats and flaps and brass buttons and medals. And they would
give us their best speech. “You'll be heading off to Vietnam,”
they told us. “You'll see plenty of action and come back heroes
with a chest full of medals because you fought for the most
powerful army in the world. And you'll be better for the
Lies, all lies. But I bought it lock, stock, and barrel. I
yanked the pen out of a recruiter's hand and said, “Yes, sir,
where do I sign, sir?” because I was seventeen and not
overburdened with brains; because I was revved to race, poured
full of the juice of youth.
I bought into their program, all right. I bought into their
propaganda, too. Years later, Secretary of Defense Robert
McNamara admitted that the Vietnam War was “a big mistake.” One
that killed 58,000 Americans, millions of Vietnamese, and turned
a big profit for the military industrial complex, Defense
Contractors, and Dow Chemical.
The real shame is that we learned nothing from Vietnam. We
continue to engage in wars that are mistakes, the military still
occupies our schools, and kids haven't stopped buying their lies
and deception. Today, it's just a little more glitzy. Military
recruiters roll up to high-schools in camouflaged Hummers decked
out with flashy decals, blasting hip-hop music and daring
passing boys to test their strength on a pull-up bar. They offer
mugs, T-shirts, posters, key chains and, (most tantalizingly)
praise to those who can do a few pull-ups. But nowhere among the
T-shirts and posters is there any indication of the true nature
of war. The terrible death and destruction always go
I'm not your typical tree-hugging, NPR listening, hippy-loving
liberal. My father served in World War II and lost his leg to a
land mine in Italy. My step father also served and had two ships
sunk out from under him. One of them was the U.S.S.
Indianapolis. He survived the harrowing ordeal of floating five
days in the Pacific Ocean and watching his shipmates be eaten by
sharks. He came home a haunted man with a drinking problem. I
also served my country during time of war, like many other
Humboldt County men and women.
What high school kids fail to understand is, war is not pull-ups
in front of your buddies. It's not crisp dress uniforms with
brass buttons and medals. War is ugly. There is no glory. It's
kill or be killed. But recruiters deliberately manipulate the
truth to fill their quota. Why is such blatant propaganda
permitted in our public schools? Is this the best we have to
offer our children? There should be more effort to bring college
and trade school representatives to speak to them. The military
should not be allowed to intrude upon school grounds in search
of impressionable youth to refill its ranks through means of
sensational advertising, promotion and deception.
Here's another sad fact: the military tends to target students
from more disadvantaged schools and less affluent neighborhoods.
The issue of the recruiting only becomes a problem when it comes
to schools that wealthier kids attend. Why? Because poor
children are more expendable than those of prosperous Americans.
Politicians and the wealthy always find loopholes to keep their
kids out of harm's way. Just ask the man who currently hopes to
become our president.
Among the most pressing of current affairs being discussed at
public schools is the issue of military recruiters being allowed
access to students' contact information. Per ex-President Bush's
No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, public schools are required to
provide the same information to military recruiters as to
representatives of colleges and scholarship foundations. Under
the current law, parents must tell school officials if they
don't want their child contacted by the military, at school or
home. Otherwise, schools are required to turn over students'
names, addresses and phone numbers to the military.
Since we presently can't keep these merchants of death out of
our schools, I'm doing the next best thing. I've taught my kids
not to be swayed by recruiters and their smoke and mirrors focus
on uniforms, camaraderie, patriotism, medals, and heroism. Call
me crazy, but I don't want some large corporation or arms dealer
using my children to fight their wars.
If they need more cannon fodder, I've got a good solution. Let
them use their own kids.
Tim Martin resides in McKinleyville.
article was originally posted at
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