Sunday, September 8, 2013

Someone else's war

The war against Iraq was launched on the eve of my son Seng Lim's 17th birthday.

He has grown to manhood while men his age trained and fought and died for an evil and illegal policy whose aim was the personal enrichment of a politically connected elite.

He never had to think about it.

Seng graduated high school, and went to college. He actually went overseas for six months.

On a cruise ship, playing piano for British vacationers while his compatriots, all men born within 5 years of him, sweltered and died in the desert heat.

I don't blame him, and I'm speechlessly thankful that I never had to worry about him dying, or losing a limb, or his intellect, or his mind. But it isn't right.

Just like in "my" war, Viet Nam, the children of the elite (that's me, and probably you as well), did not have to worry about dying overseas. And more than my war, where there at least was the fiction of the draft, he and his peers did not even have to think about it. There was literally no chance that any of them would ever pick up a gun, much less a uniform except by personal choice. As far as I know, none of them did.

I believe that this has broken our society. Young men and women should be asked, in fact should be compelled, to serve their country in uniform-- as teachers, in community service, and yes, in military service. I'm willing to bet that, like Viet Nam, if more of the college girls and boys had had to serve, fewer of all of the ones who went-- the ones without the choices or the cultural excuse to stay home-- would have died.

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