Serving the country

This story has been pretty widely blogged today. Most of the blog posts I've read have focused on the first couple of paragraphs:

Staff Sgt. Jason Rivera, 26, a Marine recruiter in Pittsburgh, went to the home of a high school student who had expressed interest in joining the Marine Reserve to talk to his parents.

It was a large home in a well-to-do suburb north of the city. Two American flags adorned the yard. The prospect's mom greeted him wearing an American flag T-shirt.

"I want you to know we support you," she gushed.

Rivera soon reached the limits of her support.

"Military service isn't for our son. It isn't for our kind of people," she told him.

But the part that caught my eye was at the end:

Jason McCamey, 19, got support from his family when he told them he wanted to join the Marines.

His dad, Don, 46, who had served in the Navy from 1983 to 1986, joined the Pennsylvania Army National Guard shortly after his son enlisted. Jason's younger brother Sean, 17, a high school student, has joined the Army Reserve.

"I taught my boys you should serve your country," Don McCamey said.

I was a 17 year old senior in high school in 1987. I had acceptance letters from Sarah Lawrence College, Hampshire College, Wesleyan University, Amherst and UCONN. I couldn't wait to go to college, and I pictured myself sitting in a Joseph Campbell lecture on the picturesque Sarah Lawrence campus, only 45 minutes from Broadway; or roaming the tunnels at Wesleyan, maybe getting into the Eclectic Society.

But my father was in an evil, whiskey inspired mood when he filled out the financial aid forms, and I was devastated to find that I did not qualify for any financial aid...in fact, my form had been rejected entirely because of my father's answers.

So in May of 1987, I had no prospects. I thought about the military many times. Although I was a punk, and was generally anti-any kind of establishment, I was well aware that the meritocratic system of the military would be beneficial for me - the structure alone would have helped me enormously. But Reagan was still president, and I didn't trust that bastard - or his likely successor - to use the military for anything but advancing their political agenda.

I read Don McCamey's statement, and I think to myself: I think my kids should serve their country. I think *all* citizens should serve their country. But under the Bush administration, it's not even my country anymore. And even though I have no idea how we're going to pay for college, I would fight my Sio if she said she wanted to enlist. Because the guys in power now treat the military like they are little plastic figures on a RISK board - they are just numbers of troops, pieces to be shuffled around as needed (or more accurately, as they so desire; screw the actual places where our military could be useful.)

I am proud of any young man or woman who wants to serve their country - when I see men or women in uniform while I'm out and about, I thank them for their service (I've picked up the restaurant tab for a table of soldiers more than once, although I do usually do it anonymously, so I'm kind of embarassed to mention it here). It's a noble thing to want to serve your country.

Too bad the Bush administration is just making suckers out of these kids.

Because if you join the military under Bush, you're just being used to further an agenda that is degrading the quality of the United States. We are torturers now. We don't care about due process or civil rights. We smear and slime the mother of a young man who died serving his country. I am deeply ashamed of what Bush has done to my country, and I am furiously angry at all those who support him.

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