Sunday, October 7, 2007

What can my country do for me?

These days, your probably not going to see an Army recruiter come onto a high school campus and tell prospective applicants that if they join, they could get sent over to Iraq or Afghanistan and take center stage in the War on terrorism. And why would they? Surveys show that many high school and college students have embraced the antiwar, anti-Bush movement. The Army has been facing an uphill battle trying to keep its recruiting numbers up, and many people in the United States have completely lost focus over what patriotism is all about. So how has the government reacted to this? If you walk into a military recruiting office and read some of the glossy brochures they have displayed, almost all of them ramble on about job skills, benefits, and money for college. "How can I serve my country" has become "What can my country do for me?" This makes the military look bad, and makes them a frequent target for the some of the despicable fanatics who try to claim that our soldiers are nothing more than an assortment of dopey, trailer-trash hicks, inner-city thugs, and members of low income families who had "no choice" but to send their son or daughter into the Army to pursue an education. While some people do believe this, the reality is that the soldiers fighting in Iraq are just as, if not more educated, than the average college student. We should give the benefit of the doubt to the men and women who have seen firsthand what's happening on the ground in Iraq, as opposed to college students who parrot what their favorite celebrities and professors tell them. Soldiers in Iraq have overwhelmingly re-enlisted to go back in, while polls show that they continue to believe we are doing the right thing in Iraq. Yet, the Army is still having a very hard time finding applicants, and at times has sought out the type of lower class individuals listed above. Unfortunately, the Army is caught within a vicious politcal power struggle that has divided up the country in ways unprecedented since Vietnam. Let's face it, we're not the same country we were after 9/11, when entire streets had flags hanging over doorsteps and Americans threw their support behind their country as we routed the Taliban from the Hindu Kush Mountains. Now public opinion has turned on the President, the Bush lied people died crowd has gained significant power and is trying to flex it over the democratic-controlled Congress. We have politicians removing their flag pins to protest the War in Iraq. Hollywood is creating movies like "The Bourne Ultimatum" and "Syriana" that portray the US government as the bad guys. Bruce Springsteen, who once released an influential album about the 9/11 attacks, is devoting entire concerts to bashing American foreign policy. News programs with their own politcal agendas launch nightly hit-pieces on the progress in the Iraq and reporting false information. The vast majority of the soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan right now are doing so for patriotic reasons, but that could very well change in the coming months and years. It's important for young Americans who could be potential applicants to know the stories of the bravery and patriotism of the soldiers they could join up with instead of just the endless barrage of negative stories spewed out by groups like Green Day. The military should not be seen as or made into an easy way for an uneducated high-school dropout with a record to get a job, or a simple way to pay for college, because the military is much more than that. Look carefully at the WWII recruitment picture at the top of the page. At the time, the only reason soldiers were enlisting was to serve their country and take a stand against the horrific events taking place at home and abroad. Well, that generation literally saved the world and won that war, and recieved steadfast support from home. Today, we are heading down the same road we took in Vietnam, and face grave consequences if we don't do the right thing. Now is the time to put aside all of our politcal differences, even if you hate the war and the President, because everybody loses if we don't succeed.

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