Skip to comments.Call Me America: A Young Man Contemplates Going to War
Posted on 09/16/2001 6:50:30 AM PDT by kcvl
Call Me America: A Young Man Contemplates Going to War
By Russell Morse, Pacific News Service, September 14, 2001
We've heard from America's pundits. We've heard from America's psychologists, suggesting how parents might talk to their kids about this week's trauma. But what about America's young people themselves? Russell Morse writes for Pacific News Service's YO! (Youth Outlook!), a monthly publication. He is 20 years old and is contemplating joining the army for the first time in his life. And for the first time, he feels like an American.
SAN FRANCISCO -- When Clinton was sending troops to Kosovo and I had just turned 18, I said I would head to Mexico if Uncle Sam came for me. When I saw footage of the World Trade Center crumbling on Tuesday, I decided I would go to war if they wanted me.
I went from flag burner to flag waver in a matter of minutes.
Brad Pitt in Fight Club told it pretty well. "We have no Great War. We have no Great Depression. Our Great War is a spiritual one. Our Great Depression is our lives."
I spoke to my mother on the phone Thursday night and she told me, "Your generation will be defined by how you respond to all of this... We became known for the anti-war movement. Drugs. Free love. I won't pretend like I wasn't a part of it, but can you imagine? Our fathers saved the world and that is how we responded."
As a generation, we've been searching for meaning. We've been looking for a reason to care about something. Our parents united in protest against Vietnam. Our grandparents came together to fight fascism. We couldn't find anything better than sweatshops and Starbucks to be upset about.
But now we understand that we are Americans. We understand the significance of our privilege because until it was threatened, we didn't know it could be any other way. We want to protect it. We may not know who we're fighting yet, but this is our Great War.
In all likelihood, though, it won't come to that. Every time I tell someone I'll go if I'm drafted, they say, "We don't fight wars like that anymore." It's true.
For one, we don't know who the enemy is. Most likely, it's not a country, state or people. The perpetrators have no real military or territorial objectives. So while our grandfathers fought a real enemy -- Nazi Germany and its allies, who sought world domination -- we fight an enemy not directly associated with a government or even a war.
I don't want to kill some guy with the misfortune of being a citizen of a scapegoat country. America is rightfully angry, and my fear is that that anger will be misdirected. Civilians in another country will be killed, just as they were killed here. And that idea stifles some of my patriotism.
If I join the army, I'll probably end up doing airport security until I'm 35, rummaging through baby strollers with an M-16 on my back.
But I'm ready. I don't know that I've ever called myself an American before. I was too busy griping about what young people in this country gripe about -- poverty, injustice, racism, and an inflated military budget (which doesn't seem like such a bad idea now). All that's been swept aside.
There are, however, people in my classes at San Francisco State that have used this as an opportunity to talk about how America had it coming. True, we've bombed and slaughtered all over the globe, but the only reason these kids are in a position to say this stuff is 'cause they're white, upper middle class college students -- they won't be the ones sent off to fight. They're lofty, Orange County-expatriate idealists. All they know how to do is rebel in the unoriginal mode of the neo-hippie faux revolutionary.
I don't believe that we should scapegoat a nation. I don't believe that we should kill civilians. I'm not in favor of military expansion. But now I am down with America. I'm down with the cops and the firemen. I'm down with the soldiers. I'm down with the National Guard. And to a certain extent, I'm down with George W.
I can't say a part of me isn't wishing this happened a year or so ago, when my man Clinton was still in office. There are a thousand reasons I dislike Bush, which I will not list. But there is one reason I embrace him -- like it or not, he's our man. And Tuesday night was his inauguration. The attacks have served to legitimize his presidency.
As our president addressed the nation, a friend of mine got excited, nodding his head and pumping his fist. He is first-generation Salvadoran, but Tuesday night, he became as American as John Wayne. When CNN ran footage of Palestinians celebrating, he shouted at the screen. "You won't be laughin' when the bomb lands on your nose, fool."
Wednesday was not exactly like December 8, 1941. Young men were not lining up at recruiting offices. But they were waving flags on freeway overpasses and cheering police officers in the street.
In my entire life, I've never seen young people cheer the police.
Untrue. Their objective is the annihilation of the United States as we know it. Do you think they will be satisfied with anything less? Ask yourself, "what are their terms for peace?" What could we concede that would make them cease such senseless acts? When put in that perspective, their objective becomes quite clear, as does our appropriate response.
How about sending a real Con Air flight to Aphgan..stan. Something like Castro did to us in the Mariel boat lift. He let all his criminals out to come here. We could give murderers and rapists andpsychopaths a choice...go to Aph..stan and get Bin Laden, or serve out your sentence.
Why hasn,t a reward been set for the head of Bin Laden on a platter? This could get some mercenary blood flowing for a quick mil. or so.
Also what about sending some of these bad a.. gangs in their bad a.. neighborhoods over to fight some real bad a.. m..f..rs. Why should we send our best and finest to go after the scumm of the earth??? Or we could have the next survivor series set in Aph..stan and the survivors would have to take thier own videos. They would be rated on artistic as well as sound and lighting and murderous deeds...and they would win a mil. bucks if they get Bin Laden.
For one, I have grown tired of these people, generation after generation, "searching for themeselves and for life".
I believe these young people will do us proud, and in the process expose the baby-boomers for the scum that they (many of them) are.
Not all of us, toots.
If there is a call up, these kids should be called up. Student deferments should only be given until the end of a semester. Not all four years of college.
President Bush foreshadowed this during his speech last summer at the convention:
"We will show that we can grow up, before we grow old."
This is a time to drop the generational resentment as well as the political devisions. If we are to succeed, we will need to stick together.
As a boomer I find that offensive. We really need to avoid the broad brush. I may be a boomer, but that doesn't mean I've not been contemplating enlisting.......HAVE YOU?
Of course, this does not apply to EVERYONE born during the baby-boomer period, but it is something I have noticed. The kids of baby-boomers have been short-changed by their parents, many of whom never grew up themselves.