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February 1, 2009, Volume 16 Nr. 6, Issue 250
In A Word...

Peter Shepherd

In the last few months I have received at least two, and if I’m not wrong, maybe three invitations from our military to join their ranks. The latest is from the Marines. It is really quite a package and has a cover on which the text appears in white: “YOUR HOMETOWN.” Under this is a flap held with sticky spots, one of those new glues that does and doesn’t. Inside the other side of the flap it declares “IS YOURS TO DEFEND.” And it goes on:

“All the moments you’ve had in your hometown make it worth defending.  Becoming a Marine gives you the ability to do that with one of the most prestigious brotherhoods in the world.”

The question this raises for me is why I have to defend my hometown and why I have to become a MARINE to do so. What’s up? Who’s attacking?  Do I have a weapon? Will I have it when they come?  Where are they?  Is this imminent?

The problem is, however, that I am almost 77 years old and not a little gimpy.  Also, I thought I served my time back in1954 during the Korean “Police Action.”   I served the allotted time then and was finally discharged from my active service into inactive service and, after a few years, from inactive service to my early fifties.

So the fact that they are trying to get me back into the service, and into the Marines, of all places, gives me a bit of a jolt.

I think my “ Semper Fi days” are almost gone forever.

But here is this beautiful and very expensive card-packet from the Marine Corps recruiters!  Boy!  It cost a lot of money!  (Who pays for this?)  And just what do they think they are doing inviting a 77 year-old codger to join them?  I thought they knew everything about us…including our age and physical condition: generally, old and poor.

While we’re at it, I have been going to write to the Pentagon and President Obama to express my concerns about the defense of my hometown, and a lot of other hometowns. I think hometowns in the United States need defending from wartime defense budget attack, from munitions and weapons expense and not just the Marine Corps’ printing expenses,  and the expense of the United States having mercenary “troops” who seem to be paid five or six times that which our soldiers and Marines and sailors are paid for similar dangers.

In the pocket of the very expensive Marine greeting/recruiting card I received is a packet of photographs: the first, the brick front of a very nice suburban house flying an U.S. flag, a photo of six young men holding football helmets by the face guard over their heads in a stance which escapes my understanding, another photo of four different “guys” in Prom dress-up behind a group of pretty, bare-armed girls of the same age and all posing for their “prom picture.”  There is a fourth photo of four young Marines in full dress uniform with parade sabers at the ready and they at attention over which is superimposed in white, like television, the phrase: “IF YOU LOVE YOUR HOME DEFEND IT.”    

There are two more enclosures: cards for me and a buddy to fill out because we’ll want to join. I don’t think I’ll be doing that. 

© 2009 Peter Shepherd

The writer is a retired English teacher whose compulsion to write every day leads him to comment on a variety of things.

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