Saturday, May 28, 2005

Maybe I'm just hypersensitive to this topic...

I'm not a soldier anymore. I had every intention of being a career soldier but as I broke various parts of my body it was no longer a possibility. Nonetheless, I remember well and fondly my days as a soldier and retain respect and affection for those who serve.

So given that, maybe my antennae are perhaps overly sensitive. But I just feel like there is a growing "screw the soldiers" sentiment in the land, reminiscent of the Vietnam era backlash against military personnel.

There is definitely an anti-military thing going on with schools taking measures to try and prevent military recruiters from accessing their students. The schools are making the spurious claim that recruiters are directing their efforts at the disadvantaged, claiming that the US wants some sort of weird military where the soldiers can't read the "This Side Toward Enemy" stamp on a claymore mine. This idea is only flawed on about 97 different levels. And secondly, for schools to shut out what may be a life changing choice-either as a career or as a leg up into the rest of their life-for disadvantaged students is immoral. Nobody knows how many disadvantaged high schoolers parlayed a hitch in the military into a highly successful adult life.

The military doesn't focus their recruiting efforts at the disadvantaged, as some claim. Infantry soldiers, the so-called "cannon fodder", tend to be very intelligent, highly motivated individuals. Clerks and typists tend to fall at the opposite end of the spectrum. And even if recruiters did stalk the disadvantaged-so what? At least they're offering them possibilities.

Apart from the ant-recruiting movement I'm getting the feeling that there is a growing sentiment against the men and women in the military. In the wake of the Marines' decision not to prosecute 2LT Pantano I saw an astonishing wave of posts vehemently condemning US military personnel as unaccountable killers, etc.

It would seem that Michael Crook (an utter punk) is only the tip of the steaming pile...

I could go on at incredible length on this topic. It's one I hold dear. But rather than bore you further with a novel-sized post, let me just assure you that I'll keep a finger as close to this anti-military pulse as I can stomach.

Since I'm on a Kipling roll, let's revisit him. I was saving this for Memorial Day, but it addresses the treatment that military people receive from (some) civilians on a daily basis. Not to worry, I still have one up my sleeve for Memorial Day.

Thomas Atkins is a general name applied to British troops, supposedly from a real Thomas Adkins who was a lion of a soldier. Just as British police are often called "Bobbys" after Robert Peeler, so are British soldiers referred to as "Tommy"

TOMMY

I went into a public-’ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
The publican ’e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,—
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ’adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-’alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,—
The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ’ow’s yer soul?”
But it’s “Thin red line of ’eroes” when the drums begin to roll,—
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin red line of ’eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

We aren’t no thin red ’eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,
But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,—
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ’is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool—you bet that Tommy sees!

4 comments:

Lilly said...

looking forward to your Memorial Day post. I'll be at the ceremony at Riverside National Cemetery, and then I'm spending the afternoon at the VA hospital where I volunteer. Most Americans are hitting the malls to spend money they don't have.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with you on this. I think the broad majority of Americans are deeply supportive of the military. I see it constantly all around me, even in a blue state like California.

Snake Eater said...

I knew I liked you, Lilly. Thanks for your support for the vets.

For Anonymous, I hope that you're right. Maybe I'm just too sensitive, but I just feel like I'm seeing a growing number of people turning their backs on the military. I saw some incredibly viscious posts following the Marines' decision not to prosecute 2LT Pantano.

Lilly said...

I greatly enjoy spending time with the vets, and I feel I get a lot more out of it than they do, but that's a matter of perspective. They're the best and always manage to make me laugh. I can never beat them at chess though :-)

For Anonymous: California is "blue" only by 9% or so. Still, supporting the troops should never be a partisan issue. It's a shame that so many people make it so.