Saturday, July 21, 2007


The Military. No, this is not a recruiting comment but a reaction to a book I recently read: The Trap. The thesis is that educated young people have practically no choice but to go into the corporate world and become everything they hate. What about an alternate, some kind of National Service. Why couldn't they do it. Well, according to this book, they could but won't: they want a lifestyle that working in corporate America would afford them while inwardly wishing they could pursue some altruistic course.

The book to me is almost beside the point but a realization that there are scores of young people out there who don't even consider they have a choice. WHY? The reasons are many. My personal favorite is that most of us need a push to do the right thing. National Service would need a push. Lamentably, based on the performance of our Congress in the last several years of both parties, this a far fetched hoped.

Some of these upper middle class kids do obviously choose a different course based on the statistics that come from nonprofits like Teach America. But, there's not enough of them. If National Service was a requirement, it would be a kind of forced volunteerism and why not? For all the benefits of being an American, why not have to give back from 18 months to two years in some kind of National Service: Peace Corps, Teach America, Habitat for Humanity, anything they might design and God forbid, even the military could be a choice.

One fascinating thing about The Trap is the fact that it is written by a twenty something. He's a good writer and has good ideas but imagine what a different book he might have written, had he served a tour in the Marines.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The King is Dead

One problem in our culture today is that Americans don't have a shared experience. There was a time when you could go into any bar or Church and say, "When I was in the Army (Navy, whatever) and there would be instant rapport. Most of it was positive and vets love to tell about their experiences/war stories. However, few Americans have military experience today and this is sad.

Here's a posting of exactly what I mean: 30 years ago today was my first day of Navy boot camp...time flies. I remember in August of 1977 while in boot camp my company commander (Freed was his name...never smiled-he was gung-ho), walked into our barrack and the only thing he said was "the King is dead" and walked out. We all kind of looked at each other dumbfounded...found out later it was Elvis Presley....we got a big laugh out of it!!!!

Sunday, July 01, 2007


This is a term I'm not hearing much these days. It envisions the "draft" too much. Over the last 10-12 years, I'd like to know how many letters I've written with an idea of the draft or of late, National Service with the draft as only one among many choices. It is like, "nobody is home."

All the present presidential candidates have good things to say about the troops and the vets. Senator Barack Obama has picked up on the idea that already we have homeless Iraqi veterans and he wants to do something.

Let's face the hard truth here; the vast majority of Americans are apathetic about the military. As a rule, they don't even know anyone in the military. And, stories of kids who had what would considered to be much better options and yet choose the military would be looked down upon. Those of us who believe that a military should reflect its democracy have to feel like someone cryng in the wilderness. What is incredibly obvious to those of us who care and think about it is how unrepresentive we are.

I miss the old days of the draft when soldiers were griping and disagreeing with government, leaders and others about why we were fighting. And, the more telling reason for sure: if we had "citizen soldiers" on a wholesale basis, the President and Congress would be reluctant to send us off to war and that is reason enough to change our system.