A Little Ray of Sunshine

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


My mother is one of those folks who believes quite strongly that everyone should be forced to do a term of military service.
So, we're at a basketball game Monday night. She leans over and says "I don't think you should let your boys play basketball, it's too rough."
Being my own, uncharitable, sharp-tongued self, plus nauseus and generally bitchy (which is normal for me during pregnancy, my husband has the patience of a saint), I replied: "You want to put my kids in the Army for a year and you think basketball isn't safe enough?"
She said: "That's different, and the Army is safer than basketball."
Me: "At least in basketball, no one is trying to kill them."
Now, she could just as easily lable me a hypocrite as I can her, for I wanted to be in the Army. I learned a lot from that ROTC experience. One thing I learned is that women have absolutely no business being in the Army, except possibly as support inside this country. Mom thinks women should be in combat arms.
"Mom. Lie down on the ground. Now roll on your side and try to pee without getting it on the place you're lying on. What, you can't do that?" (She's looking at me in disgust and amazement. So is everyone else in the swimming pool locker room where we had this conversation, for that matter.) "That's what infantry guys do. Physical reality, Mom." Or so some infantry guys told me once. 11-Bravos, for those of you who speak that language.
I can't carry a guy of my own weight. Some of the little guys can carry a guy who weighs twice what they do or more. In the field, I'm a liability. For all I can shoot straight, hit targets, and don't waste bullets, I'm a liability: too slow, too clumsy, too weak.
Another conclusion I've come to, regarding the draft: if a country can't convince it's young people that it's good enough for them to fight for, for the benefits offered (and the military does offer pay, retirement, medical care, etc, not as good as many would like, but good enough to convince lots of young people that it's a good option), then that country doesn't deserve to be defended.
The day the USA reinstitutes a draft is one day we will get serious about leaving. My kids have dual citizenship. Their other homeland doesn't have a draft. Likely won't, the President there seems to grasp that he can pay folks enough to join his army that he doesn't need to try to draft them. Their other homeland is poor enough it doesn't have very many enemies, and most of them are poorer than it is. It is said to have the most heavily fortified borders in the world. Well, if you shared a border with Congo, wouldn't you? It's managed a peaceful (except for riots) transition of power from one president to another, which is more than its neighbors do. And that's where we'd be headed. To be sure, the political establishment is corrupt, but at least they advertise their prices. Which beats US politicians, for practical living purposes.
Now, I don't have a problem with my boys joining the military, if they want to. But it has to be their choice. They have to make the call if they think this country is worth the sacrifices. Or their other one.
Of course, there are other reasons why we would leave. And likely will leave. Are planning eventually to leave, but would rather do it on our own time frame and financial frame. Which is why I can't bring myself to care too much about what sort of train wreck this country seems determined to make of itself. My family's other country is doing its best to recover from colonialism and neo-colonialism, and since it doesn't have any diamonds, and very little oil, big money isn't too interested in interfering.


  • At 12:36 AM, March 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Amen and good on ya.

    You're only free if your're free to leave and willing to do so.

    Ex-pat is freedom you should do it if possible for your kids sake.

    Res Ipsa

  • At 7:00 PM, March 04, 2006, Blogger prettylady said…

    Very interesting and thoughtful post. I am also an advocate of holding dual citizenships, if at all possible.

    And I cannot think how it is I neglected to offer my congratulations, a week ago. Congratulations! Blessings upon you!

  • At 1:19 PM, March 08, 2006, Blogger CrazyJo said…

    My sister is in the army, and she gets so defensive when the whole issue of woman not being in the army comes up. She thinks she has to be as good or better than the guys, I just wish she's be comfortable with being a woman and accept that there are gender limitations and THAT IS OK! :)

  • At 9:39 PM, March 08, 2006, Blogger BoysMom said…

    I did Army ROTC, was supposed to be comissioned. Beau got in the way. (And a busted ankle and back, too.)
    The standards are different for girls than guys. I had to do less than half as many pushups as they did and a 'good' 2 mile run time for a girl is below the minimum for a guy.
    She's your sister, and you know how much you can push her, but I'd ask her to fireman's carry one of her 200lb male buddies. One of the 100lb males can do it, can she?
    Interestingly, female cadets at West Point are more likely to be injured in training then males. I don't remember where I found that study any more, but it was one of several times I was recuperating from injuries, and it would be at least four or five years old now.

    Pretty Lady, thank you very much.

    Res, the biggest obstical is that I am an only child and my parents are a) stuborn and b) not getting any younger. I've been watching my mom and her sibs deal with my grandparents non-planing for end-of-life problems, and gritting my teeth because Mom and Dad have the same plans my grandparents do: none. Which means that if we leave I'm going to have to come back frequently to deal with them.


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