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The other side of childhood

Fellow blog board contributor Marc Danziger has a moving piece in the Examiner today about his son's decision to join the Army. I was particularly moved by the line about his son's decision putting him on "the other side of childhood."

In our circle of friends, it's been the topic of lots of discussion and no small amount of criticism. This group is part of the information elite: people who live in coastal enclaves and get paid to move information around. They're well-educated and well-traveled, have high incomes and typically view themselves as cosmopolitan in outlook.

Our kids are supposed to go to East Coast colleges and then to graduate or professional school, not join the military as enlisted men. In this circle, I count only one other family whose son went into the military. That's two children out of maybe 50 or 60 families.

That's too bad; I think the elites in our society and our military would both do better if each was more closely tied to the other. In writing about U.S. politics, I talk a lot about the increasing and frightening isolation of U.S. policy, information and economic elites.

While watching (and, in my own way, trying to participate in) the debates about the future course of the war in Iraq, I'm frustrated because it appears that we're being led by actors in a stylized Noh play set within the rules of this isolated clique -- instead of frank-speaking members of the broader community with a real sense of leadership and responsibility.

My son didn't make his decision because of my politics, which he finds an amusing hobby. He made it while he was in Brazil last year based on how he could best "give back" to our society, and also on his experience living among the American expat students there and the communities they moved within. His reasons, really, are his own. He's quizzical when I talk to him about it because he doesn't see it as a big deal; "I haven't done anything yet," as he puts it. And I try as best as I can to explain to him that this decision is important to me because it puts him on the other side of childhood. His accomplishments once he's there matter a lot, but he is taking the huge step across that line into a new world where he is my son but no longer my child.

Read it all.


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Comments (9)

Excellent article...... (Below threshold)
Son Of The Godfather:

Excellent article...
BUT, I caution all parents: If you do send your kids to a a place of higher learning like Annapolis, it's actually RUN BY THE MILITARY! heh :)

Good piece. Being on the "o... (Below threshold)
ODA315:

Good piece. Being on the "other side of childhood" is a natural transition where we begin thinking of the greater good, see self-sacrifice as a positive attribute, and self-reliance as a requirement. Unfortunately we saw in yesterdays postings (the video of the protests) some never make the journey.

There used to be a time in ... (Below threshold)
Richard C. Barrett:

There used to be a time in this country when it was no big deal if a well-to-do person entered the military. Now, because of a separation between the haves and have-nots, anytime any upper middle class kid signs up for military service, it's front page news or time to tell the world. What arrogance; what naivete on the part of this father. Every day hundreds and hundreds of young men and women from lower middle class homes sign up to serve their country and no more thought is given their actions than rain falling. It used to be a rite of passage for many men to join the armed forces and survive boot camp or some exotic foreign posting where there was danger. What an infantile upper class we have these days with its skewed values and aspirations. God help us.

Anyone see Matt Damon or Se... (Below threshold)
brainy435:

Anyone see Matt Damon or Sean Penn volunteering like Elvis did? All we have is Pat Tillman, God rest his soul.

Thank you for this post...i... (Below threshold)
nogo war:

Thank you for this post...it brought back memories of why I enlisted in 1969...

Although I strongly oppose this debacle...I personally understand why a young person
would be so motivated. Service in our military is an honorable choice. Although I will continue to oppose this "Course".

I will never disrespect a man or women for enlisting. In fact I respect them far...far more than young people who support the Bush/Republican justification without the personal risk.

oh yeah...as all Americans ... (Below threshold)
nogo war:

oh yeah...as all Americans know...Elvis was DRAFTED...I suspect brainy435 is an Islamofacist troll.

a couple of links<a ... (Below threshold)
nogo war:
Now that is a pare... (Below threshold)

Now that is a parent who understands that his/her son/daughter is an adult, and capable of making his/her own decisions for themselves. Sure, even the child does not understand why he made the decision... but it is his to make, and his alone. A parent who understands this, and supports his/her child in whatever endeavor they choose, is a parent indeed.

As for the commentary of the rich folks of America no longer having family that serve, or even understanding the concept of service... It is, indeed, remarkably sad. Of course, given that the media, the lefties, and anyone with even the slightest dislike of America has demonized, ridiculed, and generally demeaned the military, the servicemembers, and their sacrifices... it is no great wonder.

And at least Elvis served... I have no doubt that 90% of modern Hollywood, if drafted, would flee like the rats they are to Canada.

Dont let the NEA get to you... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

Dont let the NEA get to your kids and consiter home schooling




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