Things the Marine Corps Forgot to Mention
The Marine Corps recruiting literature sent to high school students is a little different each time. The first time I saw it the theme was preserving the American way of life. The student who sent in the reply card was entitled to receive dog tags, a duffle bag or a skullcap. I wrote about this in "The Few, the Proud, the High School Students." The theme the second time I saw it was defense. Offered this time was a choice between folding speakers, a T-shirt, or a wristband. I wrote about this in "The Marines Are Looking for a Few Good High School Students." Although it has been said that the third time's the charm, I'm afraid the Marine Corps has failed once again to ensnare my son.
The recruiting literature that arrived in the mail this time, thanks yet again to the No Child Left Behind Act, consisted of an envelope with a short note and two reply cards — all of which have pictures of the free Marine Corps gear being offered this time: a duffle bag, sunglasses, or a watch. The note says that in order to become a Marine you have to want certain things:
- You have to want to push your mind and body to its limits, and prove you can overcome obstacles even at the brink of exhaustion.
- You have to want to protect freedom, democracy and every state in this nation — more than you want a day off.
- You have to be willing to do what is hard because you believe it is what's right.
- You have to want to be a Marine.
With the exception of the lie that is the second item listed above — the thousands of Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan are doing nothing of the kind — these things are true. The problem is what the Marine Corps forgot to mention.
What is not mentioned is that in order to become a Marine you also have to want certain other things:
- You have to want to do anything but actually defend the United States.
- You have to want to obey without reservation the orders of your superiors.
- You have to want to perpetuate the lie that the military defends our freedoms.
- You have to want to invade other countries that have not attacked the United States.
- You have to want to occupy other countries that resist being invaded.
- You have to want to kill foreigners that resist being invaded and occupied.
- You have to want to maintain the U.S. global empire of troops and bases.
If a high school student doesn't want to do any of these things, then he has no business joining the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps is not preserving the American way of life, defending anyone's freedoms, or protecting every state in the nation.
Parents, do you want your children to do these things? Pastors, do you want your young adults to do these things? Teachers, do you want your students to do these things? Brothers and sisters, do you want your siblings to do these things? Grandparents, do you want your grandchildren to do these things? Friends, do you want your friends to do these things? Friends don't let friends join the military — and neither do parents, pastors, teachers, brothers, sisters, and grandparents if they actually take the time to do a little research about the military. I recommend they start with DOD 101.
If my arguments don't carry any weight because I never "served" in the military, then consider the words of U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler (1881—1940) — a Congressional Medal of Honor winner who could never be accused of being a pacifist and the author of War Is a Racket:
War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.
I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.
I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
It may seem odd for me, a military man, to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent 33 years and 4 months in active service as a member of our country's most agile military force — the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from second lieutenant to Major General. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism.
Butler also recognized the mental effect of military service:
Like all members of the military profession I never had an original thought until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.
Three mailings of Marine Corps recruiting literature this semester are enough. It is time to submit an opt-out form. A sample one is available here.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, my son will yet again not be sending in the reply card — or getting the duffle bag, sunglasses, or watch.
June 11, 2010
Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from Pensacola, FL. He is the author of Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State and The Revolution that Wasn't. His newest book is Rethinking the Good War. Visit his website.
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