Militarization of Little Children


May 28, 2009 by Gsmith

clip_image001Memorial Day is an American holiday which began after the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865) to commemorate the soldiers (both Union and Confederate) who suffered and died in an attempt to reunite the North American nation around a common narrative. It lasted about ten years before being largely forgotten.

After the first World War, in the early 1920s, it was revived in an attempt to bolster the morale of a war-weary nation and whitewash the terrible tragedy which befell so many American families in the poisoned trenches of Europe. It was so successful that in the 20th century it was copied throughout the commonwealth nations with a similar holiday for a similar purpose. Victoria Day (Fête de la Reine) celebrates the expansion of empire with Queen Victoria’s official birthday. This year it fell on the Monday before Memorial Day. In the city of Victoria, there is generally lots of cannon fire and old school military reenactments on horseback.

In Alaska this year, Memorial Day was celebrated by the state’s National Guard who took armored personnel carriers and tanks around to various venues where children and families were gathering. The photograph above depicts a young militiaman in the capital city of Juneau encouraging very young children (how old are those kids? Four or five?) to play with a light machine gun mounted on a military vehicle as though it were a toy.

Far be it from me to pass judgment on this spectacle; as many locals did a far better job than I could. I now give you the reactions of a few of the military veterans who objected to this depressing stunt.

On Sunday morning (May 24, the day before Memorial Day), the Empire did a great service to our community by publishing a photograph of a National Guardsman, a Humvee, an M249 machine gun, and a group of children, converging at the so-called “Outdoor Safety Expo” sponsored by the Juneau Rotary on Saturday, May 23.

A cynical attempt to manipulate and militarize children is the only conceivable purpose for the National Guard to show up to display fancy killing machines, and to encourage little kids to play with them. The M249 is a “light” machine gun; its only purpose is to maim and kill human beings. What in God’s name did that display have to do with outdoor safety?

Shame on the National Guard, and shame on the Juneau Rotary for sponsoring this dishonorable atrocity.

Phil Smith, President

Veterans for Peace, Chapter 100

Juneau, Alaska

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Sadly though, it probably doesn’t occur to Staff Sergeant Manson that he might well be grooming potential poster kids for the back door draft and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, if they’re lucky enough to come home

Gene Marx

Naval Flight Officer 1969-76, Gulf of Tonkin 1971-72

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The disconnect of that National Guard guy from the fundamentals of simple humanity is apparent. That a grown man would expose what appear to be four and five-year-olds to the workings of a lethal weapon and think it fun and cute is sad. It speaks to the pervasive militarism that produced that young man and his distorted notions of what is and is not appropriate play for very young children.

Woody Powell

USAF Korea 1952-53, K9 Corps.

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What an amazing photograph. Those kids are now marked by some infantile fantasy that shooting this gun would be fun and that if they join the Army they will get to do that. They have no concept of death, or that this gun deals death, or that they and their victims will pay a terrible price for their desires.

Paul Cox

USMC Infantry 1968-1972, Vietnam 1969-70

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I’d like to see Sergeant Michael Manson sitting behind the machine gun instead of helping children sit there . . . and then I’d like to shoot a few hundred rounds from another machine gun at his bullet screen, while the kids watch safely from someplace nearby. Maybe then he would think twice before glorifying the act of sitting behind a machine gun to kids, without teaching the true ramifications of being an army gunner. The children wouldn’t EVER want to be there again. Shame on the National Guard for allowing this activity with our children.

And this was at a “Safety Expo”?

Ward Reilly

U.S. Army Infantry and ex-gunner 1971-74

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I have worked in schools for the last 27 years, and have witnessed an ever-increasing military presence, and acceptance of it by public school officials.

The thorns that I have reap’d

Are of the tree I planted,

They have torn me, and I bleed.

I should have known what fruit

would spring from such a seed.

Lord Byron

Budda said something to the effect: The world is made up of our thoughts. What thoughts will the children leave with after seeing, touching, and being told about this article of death — except not being told of its true purpose?

Jerry Steele

Army, Vietnam 1971-72. 101st Airborne, and 1st Cav. Division.

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These young children look at most to be 4 year olds, the NG’s are doing what their bosses told them just like in Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo.

George McAnanama

US Army (MPC) 1966-68 Korea

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“Training for U.S. military imperialists of the 21st century starts early.”

John C. Reiger

U.S. Army Security Agency (ASA) 1959-62

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Kids this age still play with their friends, sometimes with toy guns, but seeing children look in awe at the real thing . . . makes something designed only to kill appear common, almost friendly, like a favorite toy.

Joe Attamante

USMC 1966-68 (drafted)

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So many opportunities for “personal growth.” Like a job in a depression — now, that’s a great opportunity. Can’t get work, hey, join the imperial centurians and go hunt down and kill kids out there on the fringes of empire in some place like Afghanistan where kids just like you can’t find a job either and have the opportunity for “personal growth” offered to them by some mullah & madrassa that does the work of our Army Experience Center or your local festival featuring cool Humvees and SAWs. Seems the world is full of opportunities for personal growth these days. Kurt Vonnegut summed it up best: And so it goes.

John Grant

Army Security Agency 1965-69, Vietnam 1966-67

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That a national guardsman would attempt to “seduce” children this young is symptomatic of a society in deterioration.

Robert Poteat

USN, 1950-53

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Some actions, which can occur even during times of peace, could easily be considered war crimes. Perpetuating the culture of war is one of them. War is a sickness of our society that will not be cured until we stop glorifying it, until we stop sanitizing it, until we stop pretending it’s a game, and until we stop indoctrinating impressionable young people.

Kim Carlyle, President

Veterans For Peace Chapter 099

Western North Carolina

U.S. Army. 1966-69. Served in Alabama and Germany

4 thoughts on “Militarization of Little Children

  1. Ezra Horne says:

    Wow, what a reaction–I’ll admit my reaction was similar.

  2. J. Madson says:

    For boys a little older, they can join the boy scouts

  3. theradicalmormon says:

    I am glad for the popular outcry against this sort of thing. I have always been disgusted with the presence of military personell at my kids schools. In San Diego, the elementary school my kids attended glorified the military beyond comprehension. My kids were forced to memorize all 4 theme songs from the different branches of the military. Every monday at flag ceremony there would be some sort of patriotic song and guest military person there to brainwash the children. This is as repugnant to me as the presence of corporate influence in the schools.

  4. Grégoire says:

    I’m also glad, and particularly pleased that veterans took the time to speak out.

    My father-in-law (I call him my dad, because that’s exactly what he was for over a decade) was just the type of person who would have objected to this sort of thing. Despite having relatives just over the border in Canada, he served three tours as a Marine in Vietnam so that his younger siblings wouldn’t be called up. We were very close and he always told me to keep my kids out of the military. He died way too soon, and it’s a shame, not least because despite not knowing anything about Mormonism he would have loved The Mormon Worker and all of you guys. I’m convinced he also died young because of the incredible stresses he endured as a young man leading patrols in the jungle. May the next generation be spared the mistakes of their fathers’ and grandfathers’.

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