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Tue Dec 11, 2012, 08:36 AM

Nation of Apathy: How I learned to stop worrying and love the draft

http://emilyyatesdoeseverything.com/nation-of-apathy-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-draft/

Nation of Apathy: How I learned to stop worrying and love the draft
By Emily J. Yates, an Iraq veteran against the war

The phrase “no, thank you” is ubiquitous to American culture. It’s used to deflect all manner of advances – a simple, standardized mantra of dismissal, indicating politely, “I’m not interested, and please leave.” Have time for a quick survey? Can I tell you about our long-distance plan? Have you thought about a career in the U.S. Army? We toss a “no, thank you” over our shoulder, moving briskly past all that is undesirable, uninviting, uninteresting – in other words, unworthy of our attention.

I heard a whole slew of “no, thank you”s recently. It was down at the wharf in San Francisco, where thousands of tourists had flocked for the festivities of Fleet Week – a red-white-and-blue-spattered celebration of the American military, complete with taxpayer-funded flyovers by the Blue Angels. Hundreds of sailors and Marines in crisp dress uniforms flooded the piers, and military recruiters lined the pathways, almost visibly salivating over the prospect of making their quota early this month. An Iraq veteran myself, I stood in the midst of the crowd with several other veterans and allies of Iraq Veterans Against the War, handing out informational flyers containing military suicide statistics.

“Support the troops’ right to heal!” we called out above the roar of the jets passing over our heads for the umpteenth time. People swerved around us, gripping plastic souvenir bags emblazoned with variations on “GO ARMY.” Avoiding eye contact. “Stop the deployment of traumatized troops!” Faces forward, they kept moving – young, old and middle-aged alike – and if the Angels weren’t roaring overhead, I’d hear a “No, thank you” as they passed by. They weren’t interested in hearing the unpleasant things we had to say, the gentle reminders that the bright and shiny military wooing them with its seemingly bottomless budget is comprised of actual human people who are not, shockingly, invincible. But why should they listen? Why should they care? After all, they have the option of “no, thank you.”

The problem of American apathy, particularly toward ongoing U.S. overseas military involvement and its consequences, has not always existed. During all American wars before 1973, nearly the entire population rallied to support or decry conflicts as they saw fit. Everyone had an opinion about wars, and everyone felt their effects – because everyone was involved. Every American male over the age of 18 was eligible to be drafted into the military, and could be called upon at any time. There were exemptions – primarily for college students, men with physical handicaps and conscientious objectors – but the majority of American males were mandated to serve in the military when called. Those who couldn’t fight overseas were asked to serve their country in other ways – through buying war bonds, for example, or donating nylon hose to be used for making parachutes. This being the case, every single American was not only well aware that their nation was at war, but experienced it either first- or secondhand. As New York Times blogger Mike Haynie wrote, “Many of us came of age under the watchful guidance of so many from the last ‘greatest generation,’ veterans supported by citizens and communities that intimately understood the role that those veterans had played in our national defense. That same understanding doesn’t exist today. A recent study from Pew Research reports that a majority of Americans indicate that 10 years at war has had little to no impact on their daily lives.”

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Reply Nation of Apathy: How I learned to stop worrying and love the draft (Original post)
unhappycamper Dec 2012 OP
Victor_c3 Dec 2012 #1

Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 02:42 PM

1. I've been stewing over a reply to this since I read it the other day

I'm always kind of surprised when threads about the topic of a lack of public apathy for the wars and the Soldiers who fight in them don't get many replies (or even views for that matter). However, I guess it further proves the point that most people are very far removed from the realities of war.

I know I mention it over and over again, but the lack of coverage and apathy is my biggest hang-up with with wars and our country. Nobody knows a damn thing about them and nobody seems to care. I've been against the idea of the draft, but the author of this article makes a great point. Our military has become a more and more isolated group from our society and that isn't a good thing for anyone except those who wish to wage more wars.

I know I mention this as well. The hardest part of coming "home" is the sense of alienation and isolation that I feel. I know a lot of it is in my head, but much of it is a result of the above. Nobody gives a damn about the wars going on in the Middle East.

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