How Can Baby Boomers Rush to Send Generations X and Y to War?
Bethany Willms firstname.lastname@example.org
I remember the rhetoric from thirty to thirty-five years ago.
"Hey, Hey, LBJ, how many men did you kill today?"
"Hell no, we won't go… hell no, we won't go!"
A President who went AWOL for two years from the National Guard during the Vietnam War - a President who never once faced a Court Martial for desertion - prepares troops to face a long and enduring war. Talk of reinstituting the draft has already begun, and as I sit here, with my twenty-five years, I find it ironic that the generation so afraid to go to Vietnam - our classic lost cause - is so quick to send troops to fight a war that can never be completely won.
We have gone from a society wondering who exactly perpetrated these crimes, to outright belief that Osama bin Laden is behind them. We are cattle following the rancher to the slaughter, for no proof has been presented, any more than existed on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 of bin Laden's guilt. Yet, we simply believe that this attack is characteristic of the type of attacks bin Laden has used against the United States. We do not wait for full proof; we don't even wait for ANY proof. The United States, in its second stage of grief, is ANGRY, angry enough to not care about killing innocent civilians of another country.
On Monday, September 10, 2001, our country had a President who was willing to take $9 billion from the Social Security surplus to help with the federal budget, which was severely deficient due to the recent tax cuts. Now, we stand ready to accept $20 billion dollars in aid to New York City alone. A gift, I can certainly understand, due to the extreme damage at the heart of the city. However, an additional fifteen billion dollars is being loaned to the Airline Industry with five billion dollars an outright gift. Where is all this money coming from? This money that we did not have on Monday, can be found after Tuesday?
Now the reserves are being called up. Who is to pay their salary? Where is that money to come from?
The Dow Jones is down over 600 points, and continues to decline.
In this confusing time, I cannot reconcile any of my feelings. I feel for the individuals who lost their life during this bloody event. The pictures of people falling and jumping from the World Trade Center buildings break my heart in two, as do the pictures of the firefighters who will not return to their firehouses. I feel the United States is being blindly led into a war, which in the end will make no difference, and will only result in the loss of additional human and more pointedly, American lives.
So, how do the baby boomers, whose chanting and demonstrating led to American chaos, prepare to send Generation X and Y to the front? How can the hypocrites live with themselves? Senator John McCain is the only Congressman I am aware of to actively serve in the United States Military and fight in Vietnam. Many others are privileged individuals who had their parents buy their way into the National Guard, ran to colleges and avoided their draft boards, or ran to Canada.
How do we go from a country afraid of economic recession, to an almost certain recession, and in the process go from desperate dislike for our President to ignorant pride?
President Bush's only ability to stay in office is to keep this war going. That is why the talk is centering on a long military agenda. That he did not meet with victim's families or even tour New York for four days following the attack is simply dismissed. In another time, possibly four years ago, the Press would have demolished President Clinton's image for so long a delay.
President Bush ran from the White House. He had that luxury. 6,333 people did not have that luxury in the World Trade Centers. People have forgotten his action in our short-term television derived memories. We believe what we want to believe - that our leaders are effective men, that we did not elect an idiot, that we elected a proud, brave, courageous man.
My fear is that men and women I grew up with will die in a country far away from their families. They will not wake up beside their spouse or loved one. They will not kiss their child goodnight the night before - they will be in a foreign land, far away from those they need the most.
Most distressing is to hear Boomers want to bomb Afghanistan. What would happen, if we bomb innocent civilians living there? How would we react to it? The people of Afghanistan, even those not currently supporting it, would rally around the Taliban in great numbers, like those many Americans who certainly did not vote for George W. Bush and are now proud of his reactions. We must not forget that Afghanistan is a country that has already claimed so many western lives already - must there be more?
I still fear that Boomers have forgotten what war is exactly about. Too many of their generation are quick to put their sons on the front lines of this worldwide disaster. Too many of them are willing to give up their son's lives - too many of those who didn't give their lives or didn't even answer their own call to defend freedom and justice.
And what if Osama bin Laden is responsible for these attacks? Just what if?
Isn't it fair to assume that this war is what he has wanted all along? That the world would see the big, bad U.S.A, pick on such a great underdog? And if we are successful in acquiring him to bring him to justice, what is to prevent others, mainly his son, from sprouting in his place? He is not alone and his passionate feelings against the United States are sadly felt in many of his own people.
This war will create more terrorists than it will prevent or kill. This war will have an effect greater than the World Trade Center, for there are fathers and now, MOTHERS facing combat. At what point do we turn the other cheek - beef up security and simply HOPE that we can prevent major terrorist attacks? When does the attention turn from what we are going to do in retaliation to what we are going to do for the security of America?
We are united by an imbecile, who cannot think, who is led by his own Vice President. His word choices, his whole manner of speaking is inadequate for first time public speakers, let alone the Leader of the Free World.
I understand that this abominable attack is a great disaster to the idea of freedom and democracy. But, I think that immediate mobilization, in the middle of America's grief, is the wrong call to make. Americans must go through a grieving process and a war will only prolong that process. Isn't it time we thought about defending peace, rather than revenge? This war is nothing but revenge - a way to feel safe again in our own borders, when in reality our country is never completely safe. That is the price of living in a free society.
I too stood in disbelief of the attack, it was honestly too unbelievable to comprehend. Now, I find myself watching movies that were filmed in New York, and looking for the World Trade Center, trying to believe it once stood there. Never visiting New York, I have failed to understand the full scope of this tragedy, and yet, I still feel it, and I still cry.
The greatest positive reaction to this tragedy is the unity that we now feel as a nation. That we rally around our flag brings hope to my heart. The Star Spangled Banner, a song that always gave me goose bumps, is being played more and the respect shown to this beautiful song is outrageous! That Americans are not afraid or even embarrassed to be Americans anymore is wonderful. For so long, we have needed a rally a way to remind us of all that we stand for, of all that we have done to protect other nations. I am so sorry that so many had to give their lives in this attack so that the rest of us could learn what we should have remembered so long ago.
The saddest feeling I have, however, is this utter feeling of helplessness. That a man leads us who is willing to risk thousands of lives to continue a war so that he will get reelected, so that his brother will get reelected, just feels so wrong. I imagine that many felt this way about Nixon, and now, I feel their pain, as well. That a man would prolong a war this long, makes me wonder for a split second if with his knowledge, our government failed to give sufficient warning to those in the World Trade Center that there was a possibility of such a huge attack. My thoughts even surpass that horror, though I dare not divulge further my personal thoughts and feelings, as we all know how our President abides criticism.
This helplessness is perhaps the worst feeling in the world.
That I am to stand by and watch our "leader" send many men and women my age, with families and spouses, makes me feel useless. From what the media propaganda is reporting, my feelings are in the twenty percent minority. I do not feel this man is doing his job. I feel he is giving in to revenge, I feel he has found a way to keep his office, and he intends to sacrifice Americans, to keep a job. I fear that the draft will be reinstated, and the only thing I have to feel grateful for is that my husband is a Canadian, and we can retreat to the Great White North. That nations are now backing off, the initial reaction of fear gone, their assistance dwindling, is of no great comfort, as well. If we continue on this path, America will stand alone.
Wiping out terrorism is a grand ideal. The possibility, however, is unattainable. Even if terrorists no longer despised Americans, there would still be terrorism throughout the world. We have seen the IRA launch attacks against England and Ireland for decades and have stood by and watched. For that, we all have blood on our hands. So, why the urgency now? All I feel is that there is a sense of 'How dare THEY?' running rampant across this nation. We are not so much wanting revenge, as we are demanding answers for how this attack could be possible without any warning flags being raised by our government. Our government, on the other hand, is reacting in full force that it was a total shock, a total surprise, and refuses to answer the necessary questions of who knew what when. Instead, they chose to lead us down a path that will ultimately be ineffective, and destroy many of our freedoms we fought to keep.
In our rush to war, our rush to defend ourselves, our nation is forgetting many of our fundamental beliefs. Most disturbing is our convenient forgetfulness of the word justice. I too, want revenge, but I want justice for all - that's what the United States means to me. Innocent until proven guilty without that, we should simply give up, because we will no longer be the America that matters. We will have become, in part, what many fear we are already. Frankly, even though this man has possibly planned or even carried out these heinous acts, I'm still waiting for the proof. Until that, I cannot justify a war in my own mind, let alone to the generations that will follow. Innocent until proven guilty and justice for all - how can we ever forget that?