Scared? Damn Right!


A few weeks ago during the buildup to Christmas something happened to my way of thinking that sent a shiver through me. It was significant enough, so that I made a point of calling my brother and in no uncertain terms told him: "talk to your son! Do not let him talk himself into joining the service." My brother assured me that he would not encourage him to join. I tried to explain to him that that wasn't enough. I told him that I didn't think that Alex should be hanging around talking with friends: macho-ing themselves into a term of military service. Now, any regular reader of this paper knows that our family has served many times before in the service of this country. But not this time. I was comforted by my brother and told that he didn't think that his son would be so foolish.

What of other sons and other families? What is it that has me so jumpy? During this past Christmas season as I watched advertisement after advertisement, it slowly came to me that in all those video game ads, what I was really looking at were recruitment advertisements. Not that what was presented in the sales pitch was open. Or even connected to the military. Yet, there is an uncanny way that young men are being actively recruited that ties in with these pro-war games. It is similar to the way the young men of my generation were drawn into the military. We were raised on a steady diet of World War II films with none of the truth of the real battlefield. We, of course, were always on the right side, and we always won. The injured were always off screen somewhere and the dead were marked heroically.

So it is in the make-believe of video games. There are no wounded because they are out of the screen of vision. There are no dead comrades, just suckers. The enemy being, only a sum total of your body count. Body Count. Damn! There needs to be a better way of deciding who wins a war than just piles of dead. Maybe we could hold an election. Declare victory and walk away.

What really set my skin to crawling over this whole enlistment issue happened in early January. I drove into town and there at the local taco hangout, across the street from the high school, sat a red, white and blue Hummer. Not the weenie kind that we see driving around. No, it was a real one and there were a couple of recruiters sitting there having lunch. I have heard of the military recruiting at high schools. But with them sitting there, with their sweet piece of military hardware, waiting to talk to high school seniors, seemed like a couple of fishermen chumming the water and waiting to see what would bite. It gave me the creeps to think that I might be witnessing the very first steps of a dead man.

That's how it starts. You don't join the service to learn a trade any more. There are many of those job classifications that are now contracted out , thusly, no real training for a life's occupation. One that is still filled by servicemen is truck driver. I'll bet those people have a lower life expectancy than the guys who were tunnel rats in Viet Nam. For those of us in Viet Nam it was pungie pits and grenades along the trails. Now, its I.E.D.s. That stands for Improvised Explosive Device. Which to me is as typical a denial as the military puts out. How do you pack a vehicle or even a barrel with explosives, set it and then denote the Device. Then label it Improvised?

No I don't like this war. I see No purpose to it, only heartache. I am happy that my son is past this age. I hope my brothers will also get their sons past the age when they are bodies to feed to the machinery of war. I weep to think that there are young men who will be drawn into this unholy war with no good council.


Michael Sherer - been there, done that