Friday, March 31, 2006

These colors don't run

I am always amazed by the reaction that my daughter, Vicky, gets when she is out in public wearing her Marine Corps Junior ROTC uniform. It seems that she's never ignored. On the contrary, the uniform excites great passion in people. Often, she is mistaken for a real Marine (believe me, she both relishes that, and fears that she is disrespectfully impersonating a Marine, so the correction usually follows quickly). Anyway, it's easy enough to receive positive feedback from fellow Americans, thanking her for her "service" or otherwise being supportive of the troops, and by extension, patriotic in the face of the insidious assault on our way of life, not just from external enemies, but from within. It's the latter that is so hard to stomach.

She's been insulted and mocked by complete strangers, people who don't know her personally, or have an understanding of that uniform, the history behind the Armed Forces in the country. .. in short, what it means to be prepared to die for the very people slinging insults. Everyone can name Pat Tillman, but what of the generations of men and women before him, who died silently and without publicity, without acknowledgement, without a hero's accolades? I think she is most offended by the insult to these unnamed warriors, unable to defend their choice to serve honorably.

It's easy enough to wear the uniform at school, on uniform days, because there is "safety" in numbers. There is a show of unity for everyone in the program. The problems arise off-campus, where she attends the local college for classes in the morning. Sadly, Vic has been introduced to what will certainly be a long line of unprofessional professors, who feel their constitutional right to voice their Marxist opinions over-rides their professional obligation to teach the subject they are hired to teach. Imagine that! Rejecting the very people who keep them in their pink mortarboards and "free speech as long as it agrees with my opinion" diatribes.

I witnessed this firsthand on my campus this week, and although I know of the foolishness surrounding campus recruiting, saw and heard it for myself. The Army had set up a very nice recruiting station in an area that doesn't necessarily attract a lot of student movement (it would have been better by the library or student union) but was not in a position to inconvenience traffic, both on the street or pedestrian. In fact, I'd say it was inconvenient for the purpose of drawing crowds.

I stood by the doors to the Humanities building (Liberal Arts!) when some colleagues walked up to me, expressing their disdain for the recruiters. I was taken aback by the comments. Admittedly, it was not the usual venum spewed by some others--I once heard a professor instruct a student to vote, because "Satan is in the Whitehouse." Nevertheless, I asked why? She conceded that they had a right to be there, but that didn't mean she had to like it.

I dropped the conversation. I was not going to convert her, and she was not going to convert me, but at least, in this instance, there was a mutual understanding. After all, I didn't like Jesse Jackson's visit to campus last fall which was full of finger-pointing and angry allegations of racism and classism, but I didn't fight it. I guess she didn't like to see young men and women proudly wearing the uniform of the United States Army, demonstrating the hard-earned ranks of leadership and medals of accomplishment, in the hopes of attracting bright and purpose-filled young people to join their ranks.

I guess some people are programmed to see a bleak future full of strife and defeat, while others prefer to see a hopeful future worth protecting.

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