Why Enlistments Are Down

The Army and Marines are continuing to fail to meet monthly enlistment quotas.

I am reminded of one of the other neighborhood kids in my teenage years, in the late Sixties, during the Vietnam War.

Mike was a war-lover. His idea of "The Good Old Days" was World War II. He hated Germans. Nazis in particular, but Germans in general. He wanted to kill Germans. He used to take war comics and slash at them with a penknife, muttering "Take that, Jerry! Die, Kraut!" He was... oh, what's a polite word?... nuts.

But since WWII was over ("Damn it!"), it looked like he'd have to settle for Vietnam, and a chance to kill Asians instead. As soon as he finished high school, he said, he was going into the military and volunteering for Vietnam.

Then his mother had a heart-to-heart talk with him:

"Mike, as your mother, I want you to know that I don't want you going into the military, and I especially don't want to see you going to Vietnam. In fact, I so MUCH want you to not go to Vietnam that I will STOP you. I will stop you any way I have to. Do you see this box on the table? Let me show you what's in it. This is your father's handgun. It's loaded, and I'm pointing it at your leg. Specifically, I'm pointing it at your kneecap. If you TRY to join the military, if you even THINK of trying to join the military, I will take this gun and put a bullet through your knee. I am serious; I mean every word I am saying. If you try and join the military, I WILL SHOOT YOUR STUPID BRAINLESS ASS RIGHT IN THE KNEECAP. I will CRIPPLE you. I will cripple my own son, and go to prison for it, rather than see him die in a godforsaken hellhole for no good reason. Have I made my feelings on this matter clear?"

Mike never enlisted. Last I heard of him, he was leading a normal life, with a wife and children, in Puerto Rico.

I suspect there are other mothers right now, holding similar conversations with their children about the military and Iraq.

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