From Veterans for Peace. Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:05 am (PDT) . Posted by: "Sanford Kelson" Attorney-at-Law 8231 South Canal Road Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania 16316 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 10:53 AM
We condition the poor and the working class to go to war. We promise them honor, status, glory, and adventure.
War Is Betrayal: Persistent Myths of Combat by Chris Hedges
We condition the poor and the working class to go to war. We promise
them honor, status, glory, and adventure. We promise boys they will
become men. We hold these promises up against the dead-end jobs of
small-town life, the financial dislocations, credit card debt, bad
marriages, lack of health insurance, and dread of unemployment. The
military is the call of the Sirens, the enticement that has for
generations seduced young Americans working in fast food restaurants or
behind the counters of Walmarts to fight and die for war profiteers and
The poor embrace the military because every other cul-de-sac in their
lives breaks their spirit and their dignity. Pick up Erich Maria
Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front or James Jones's From Here to
Eternity. Read Henry IV. Turn to the Iliad. The allure of combat is a
trap, a ploy, an old, dirty game of deception in which the powerful, who
do not go to war, promise a mirage to those who do.
I saw this in my own family. At the age of ten I was given a scholarship
to a top New England boarding school. I spent my adolescence in the
schizophrenic embrace of the wealthy, on the playing fields and in the
dorms and classrooms that condition boys and girls for privilege, and
came back to my working-class relations in the depressed former mill
towns in Maine. I traveled between two universes: one where everyone got
chance after chance after chance, where connections and money and
influence almost guaranteed that you would not fail; the other where no
one ever got a second try. I learned at an early age that when the poor
fall no one picks them up, while the rich stumble and trip their way to
Those I knew in prep school did not seek out the military and were not
sought by it. But in the impoverished enclaves of central Maine, where I
had relatives living in trailers, nearly everyone was a veteran. My
grandfather. My uncles. My cousins. My second cousins. They were all in
the military. Some of them-including my Uncle Morris, who fought in the
infantry in the South Pacific during World War II-were destroyed by the
war. Uncle Morris drank himself to death in his trailer. He sold the
hunting rifle my grandfather had given to me to buy booze.
He was not alone. After World War II, thousands of families struggled
with broken men who, because they could never read the approved lines
from the patriotic script, had been discarded. They were not trotted out
for red-white-and-blue love fests on the Fourth of July or Veterans Day.
The myth of war held fast, despite the deep bitterness of my
grandmother-who acidly denounced what war had done to her only son-and
of others like her. The myth held because it was all the soldiers and
their families had. Even those who knew it to be a lie-and I think most
did-were loath to give up the fleeting moments of recognition, the only
times in their lives they were told they were worth something.
"For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' 'Chuck him out, the brute!'"
Rudyard Kipling wrote. "But it's 'Saviour of 'is country' when the guns
begin to shoot."
Any story of war is a story of elites preying on the weak, the gullible,
the marginal, the poor. I do not know of a single member of my
graduating prep school class who went into the military. You could not
say this about the high school class that graduated the same year in
Mechanic Falls, Maine.
. . .
Geoff Millard was born in Buffalo, New York and lived in a predominately
black neighborhood until he was eleven. His family then moved to
Lockport, a nearby white suburb. He wrestled and played football in high
school. He listened to punk rock.
"I didn't really do well in classes," he says. "But that didn't seem to
matter much to my teachers."
At fifteen he was approached in school by a military recruiter.
"He sat down next to me at a lunch table," Millard says. "He was a
Marine. I remember the uniform was crisp. All the medals were shiny. It
was what I thought I wanted to be at the time.
"He knew my name," Millard adds. "He knew what classes I was taking. He
knew more about me than I did. It was freaky, actually."
Two years later, as a senior, Millard faced graduation after having been
rejected from the only college where he had applied.
"I looked at what jobs I could get," he says. "I wasn't really prepared
to do any job. I wasn't prepared for college. I wasn't prepared for the
workforce. So I started looking at the military. I wanted to go active duty Marine Corps, I thought. You know, they were the best. And that's what I was going to do.
"There were a lot of other reasons behind it, too," he says. "I mean, growing up in this culture you envy that, the soldier."