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                                         The Bill Of Rights




OPINION     June 05             

            A soldier dies and we change the channel.

       We get up in the morning and lose ourselves in the relative safety of the daily humdrum. We work and have lunch, whether brown bagging or eating upscale with a client. At home we might have a barbecue or a pizza, take a walk and have an ice cream cone, then watch television. We enjoy movies, ball games, dinner parties, bowling alleys, zoos, shopping malls, and the sanctuaries of churches and temples. Meanwhile, every day in Iraq our brave young people are risking being grossly wounded or dying, and it seems almost sinful not to be thinking of them every few minutes....

      But it’s so easy not to. After all, the media, as if catering to the administration saturates America’s vast, easily distracted and apparently intellectually challenged citizenry with juicier “news,” featuring luminaries like Paris Hilton, Brad and J-lo, Michael Jackson and The Runaway Bride.  And anyway we’ve got a volunteer military, nobody forced them, for pete’s sake. Yeah, it’s so easy, unless of course, you’re a spouse, a mother, a sibling, a child, of the absent soldier, sailor, or marine.

      I’m going to state the obvious simply because it pleases me to do so. The fact is, our system is not working for the benefit of all. Universal military obligation would be the most democratic arrangement for our society--but don’t hold your breath, folks. It would mean the sons and daughters of the poor, the working poor, the middle, the upper middle, the rich, the super rich, would have to serve side by side. Contrary to the belief of some, we are not a classless society, and therefore the children of the corporate and political well-to-do have no need for either a military family structure and career, or a pathway to education benefits, which most of the less well-heeled, less educated, are often seeking.

   But in tribute I must mention here those idealistic youngsters in their late teens, seeking no benefits and possessing proud and loving parents, who heard the Bush administration’s call to duty and honor, to the patriotic defense of our country, who stepped forward and volunteered, and who were sent to an Iraq that has become a magnet for outside Islamic suicide bombers, in the employ of a corrupt insurgency bent on regaining the power it enjoyed under Saddam.

      If the children of the well-connected were inducted alongside the offspring of the less-connected, these influential parents would be far less inclined to wave the flag and spout high-flung patriotic clichés, less willing to send their kids to fight for dubious causes like democratizing Iraq. Powerfully connected parents might hesitate to risk having their kids returning limbless or brain damaged, or zipped into a body bag.

   Up until recently it was probably difficult for teenagers, steeped in the digital violence of gaming, to visualize the searing reality of an actual body being torn apart or remaining alive in a horribly altered state. Though it would seem, with military volunteerism dropping precipitously, these same youngster have begun to grasp the many nightmarish risks involved in grisly combat, perhaps also realizing if only vaguely, our volunteers should have been confronting enemies not in Iraq for the oil we cannot tap, but in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Syria, where we are truly, fiercely, hated; and that if the Bush administration really cared about freeing the tortured, starved and murdered, we would have sought to stamp out genocide in Africa. But I guess there is not as much oil in Africa as in Iraq.



      If you are interested in visiting a well  organized website devoted to the activities of the loved ones of our brave young Marines, some of whom while still in their teens have already given their lives, you may visit: marineparents.com

      Some of these parents believe in the Iraq war, some of them don’t, but they have a common interest--the danger to their children in uniform.

               Uncle Sammy