Love and War (11/11/46) - Rilo Kiley (mp3)
Bible vs. Gun - Will Hoge (mp3)
If we don't go with a draft, then I'd recommend a flat-out military service requirement similar to Denmark, Israel and the Latter-Day Saints!
Reinstating "conscription" in the United States would have a Dan Quayle impact on our conscience in shit that matters most. What I mean is, if anything had happened to Bush 41 and Dan Quayle had taken over as POTUS, our national attention would have quickly focused on what the hell that cardigan-wearing Nancy-boy was doing daily. Screw L.A. Law and Murder She Wrote, 'cuz we'd be scared poopless about our idiot President doing something irreversibly stupid, like banning Potatoe Guns.
Another reason can be summed up in a single word: "Patriotic."
Know why World War II holds such a special place in America's collective heart? Because practically every portion of America's collective society stepped up and donated. Ten percent of the country's population served during WWII, as opposed to less than a single percent during the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts. When you focus most of that 10-percent on a 20-year span of males, you're talking a huge chunk of a generation of men, "the Greatest Generation," we claim.
I'm sick of the word "patriotism." The only word that's been more damaged and misused in the last 20 years is "Christian."
First off, our military could use a little bit more diversity, and by that I mean normalcy.
miss their Mustangs more than their spouses. You get people who want to be soldiers, which ain't really s'posed to be something people want to do all that badly. In the few conversations with the dozens of WWII and Korean War veterans I've known -- many long gone, including my father -- none of them were obsessed with being a soldier. None of them glorified the experience or even got all that excited answering my eager questions.
I remember especially one of my father's friends who served in the Korean "Conflict," who said something close to this: "Those were the most important years of my life, and I'll never forget them, but I wouldn't wish them on anyone if I could help it."
Old school soldiers are mostly proud, mostly patriotic, and mostly heroes. But don't confuse their pride and patriotism with glorifying something that's naturally ugly and scarring. Sure, you'll always have the "nothing beats the smell of napalm in the morning" types, but they're s'posed to be the outliers, not the standard-bearers. I have several relatives who did or currently serve our country, and a handful of past students I know are in the field. Only a couple of these were your "kick ass and take names later" kinds of people, but "normal guy" and "soldier" aren't as linked as they should be in modern times.
Secondly, nothing about the last 10 years of warring angers me more than how quickly our country turns away from its injured veterans. Soldiers whose service is cut short by a lost limb or worse are often discarded like yesterday's leftovers.
Most anti-abortion folks fight the noble fight of "a baby's right to live" right up to the point where the babies are born, and then they don't give a shit about the baby after it comes out of the womb. After that precious thing is born, it suddenly becomes less the responsibility or a morally-upstanding country and more that of the meth-addled single mom with an IQ of 25. After the birth, it's suddenly that mother's fault for not practicing abstinence. Then, when the mom buries the kid under the wood chips at a playground because she has no clue what she's doing, we can feel better that we fought for this child's right to live.
It's the same with our military. We support them so long as they can still carry a gun and guard that wall. But we sure as hell don't wanna have to pay tax dollars to nurse them, keep the IVs in them, provide 'round-the-clock care for them, or offer psychological counseling for them, once they return home.
Perhaps most importantly, our words would immediately carry more weight. Words like "patriotism" and "country" and "service" and "honor" would tug at our hearts because our own loved ones were on the other end of that barrel. Every death of an American serviceman or -woman overseas, every attack on our people, would rattle our souls to their core as we fretted over the safety of those we love, at least until we got their Twitter that they were OK, that it was some other family's tragedy.
A draft wouldn't guarantee that the likes of George Bush or a Kennedy child would have to serve. The super-wealthy and super-influential can find loopholes for anything, it seems. But a draft or other kind of conscription would force enough of us in the middle and upper classes to care that the entire political dynamic of fighting and war and abused words like "patriotism" in this country would have to change.
Our government would also have a much higher standard to meet before sending troops into a scrum, or a conflict, or a "peace-keeping mission," or a war. Because suddenly a significant majority of voters would be closely tied to the very bodies being considered for those fights. Flag-waving and Lee Greenwood songs might not feel quite so empowering and "patriotic" when you're sending your own kids to the front lines.
And I guaran-damn-tee you we'd all like the sound of the word "diplomacy" a whole lot more.
Both songs can be purchased on iTunes or at Amazon.com's mp3 site.