Going off to war
Posted on July 26, 2011
I was on the hotel shuttle from the Salt Lake City airport to our hotel on Monday and the other person sharing the van was a pensive young woman. The driver recognized her camouflage backpack before I did and asked her if she was coming to be “processed.” He later explained that SLC is the site of a regional induction center for the Army.
She said she was coming in for her induction and when he asked her if she “was excited,” she replied in a near whisper that she was “really, really nervous.” She shared that she was from central Wyoming, had never been anywhere before, and was already homesick. All of this in a quavering voice. She looked like a 15-year-old, small and at that moment almost frail.
My heart was breaking for her. Not so much because of her anxiety — after all, I assume most new recruits arrive scared and nervous — but because of what might await her. Women in the US military are now killed and wounded in combat. If they survive those possibilities, many will come home carrying other burdens emotional and psychological.
Chatting with this young woman, I was simply reminded that all wars squander our young. Old men (mostly men) make decisions that send young men and women off to die. Poor young men and women serve and die in much greater numbers than the children of the wealthy and when they fight they usually fight the young and poor of some other nation. It has been said before, but if this nation had a draft we’d fight far, far fewer wars.
If I were this young woman’s dad I’d be at once proud and heartbroken.