Parental Guidance Suggested
I stopped for a moment, looked at the board members and let it sink in.
“ That's what our youngsters are exposed to in the military. Is that where we want 12 years of hard work with these kids to end up?”
Dismissing the board's draft policy as inadequate, I added that “counter-recruiting” opportunities did not rate very high on my list of policy ideas. “The military gets three billion dollars a year of our tax money just for recruiting! I'll be glad to come to Toledo Public Schools and talk with students any time about the military, but don't think that inviting us to come in on our own time, taking time off from work, printing up our own material – compared to the slick presentations and Humvees in homecoming parades and climbing walls on the football field the recruiters offer – is some kind of equal opportunity. It's not!”
Staff Sgt. Owens, who later stated he was employed by TPS as an athletic coach (!) responded, “That might have been the way the military was during Viet Nam , but things have really changed since then. Drill Instructors can't run over recruits like they did…they can't even swear at them any more.”
That claim was so absurd it didn't even need an answer.
After a round of criticism of the board's policy, Owens tried his patronizing best to mollify us with an “I-just-feel-like-people-here-don't-really-understand-what-the-military-is-all-about-these-days” speech, to which I almost heatedly objected until he lobbed a perfect softball right over the heart of the plate.
“Well, I just wish I could take you out and show you…”
“Show us what?! Would that tour include a visit to the V.A. hospital?!” I demanded.
“Oh, come on, we don't address…”
“YOU'RE DAMN RIGHT YOU DON'T TELL KIDS ABOUT THE V.A. HOSPITAL !! RECRUITERS NEVER TALK ABOUT THE V.A. HOSPITALS, DO YOU?”
At this, the principals' union president tried interjecting, “Well, I've seen plenty of athletic recruiters lie to kids, too.”
“Maybe…but those lies don't send kids to a burn unit,” I spat.
Trying to turn the volume down a notch, Larry said, “Now let's not get…”
“Larry, these guys,” I said, pointing to the now-quiet recruiters, “get three BILLION dollars a year of our money to mess with the minds of our youngsters, and I'm not going to sit here quietly while they lie.”
Satisfied with a point made for the moment, I watched that portion of the meeting conclude with Larry announcing the draft policy would be given a reading at the next full board meeting November 29.
I can't wait.
© 2005 Mike Ferner
Mike Ferner email@example.com lives in Toledo and co-chairs the Veterans For Peace committee to impeach Bush.
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