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A Funny Thing Happened In Church Today

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I thought you might be interested in this one:


(This is Sunday, May 25, 2003 - and what is called Memorial Day Weekend in the States)...


My wife and I went to church today (Sunday AM) here in our small town. The pastor, during his warm-up portion of the service, made mention of the fact that this is Memoriad Day weekend. He then said something to the effect that we wouldn't be able to enjoy the freedom of being able to go to church, maybe not even to be alive, if it weren't for the American veterans who served in the U.S. military.


At about that point, the pastor asked all military veterans in the congregation to stand up.


For some reason that I couldn't verbalize, I refused to stand. Cathy asked me to stand several times, but I was determined not to. Now, I think I understand...


- When I was in the Air Force, the American citizens hated the Vietnam War... and by association, they hated us. I remember that my fellow airmen and I were admonished over and over, time after time, to never go into town (Amarillo, Texas) in uniform. Our close-cut hair was bad enough. The locals would often provoke a fight or simply gang up on a GI. There were a lot of beatings. We were made to feel ashamed, and to act like second-class citizens because we were in the military.


- Years later, as a member, and twice-elected Commander of my American Legion Post, I saw the membership of all veteran groups dwindle, and it became difficult to find guys to turn out for projects. Virtually everyone said that ever since Bill Clinton became President, military service and patriotism was way out of style.


- Even now, and even after George Bush's success in Iraq, the American people really have no use for the military. During the last presidential election, Tom Daschle and the Democratic Party made a point that ballots from the members of the military should not be counted. And, the majority of the American people apparently agreed. I remember Jay Leno's monologue one evening included a joke, "I don't know why we should have to count the votes of the military. Especially those overseas. If they don't care enough about this country to stay here, why should they have the right to vote?" There was a big applause and laughter on that one.


So, as this Memorial Day comes around, I want to tell you all something. I'm ashamed that I ever served in the Air Force. Bill Clinton proved that those who avoided military service have more influence in America than those schmucks who do serve. My recommendation to my grandkids is this: DO NOT SERVE IN THE MILITARY! LOOK OUT FOR NUMBER-ONE. Let the fools sign up or get drafted. You're far better off looking out for yourself, and screw everyone else!


As for me? I can't wait to move to another country!


-- Dockmaster

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This Topic posted by Dockmaster appeared in AM Costa Rica.... I am not sure if you (he) wrote the letter to AM CR or if simply reprinted it... In any case, I am adding THIS artiicle (below) from the NY Times today.


What do other Forum readers think? Is there no respect for the military? Me, I thought the original letter in AM CR was silly. Yes, there was a time when most Americans did not support Vietnam.... I sure didn't! But I also NEVER took out my personal dislike of US policy on the folks who served.


Anybody alse have opinions?




May 27, 2003 The New Yory Times Copyright

Trust in the Military Heightens Among Baby Boomers' Children




The topic in John Sunderdick's leadership class at Mount Hebron High School in Ellicott City, Md., was the military. The first task was word association.


"Just write down the first word that pops into your head" connected to the military, Mr. Sunderdick, 25, said.


The results would have gladdened the heart of any recruiter:


"Strong," "bravery," "proud to be an American," "service," "Bush," "really hard workouts" and "heroes."


A few students wrote negatives like "blood" and "imperialism." But by and large, the class of 18 sophomores and juniors voiced a striking degree of confidence in the military.


In fact, researchers and polling experts say, the class reflects a long-building trend that has intensified with the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and the successful military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.


Americans' trust and confidence in the military has soared, even as it has declined in other institutions like corporations, churches and Congress.


From 1975 to 2002, the percentage of Americans who expressed a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the people who ran organized religion fell, to 45 percent from 68. Those expressing a great deal or a lot of confidence in Congress declined, to 29 percent from 40, according to a Gallup Poll. But also in 2002, Americans who expressed a great deal or a lot of confidence in the military rose, to 79 percent from 58 in 1975.


The positive image is particularly striking among the children and grandchildren of baby boomers, said David C. King, an associate professor of public policy at Harvard and co-author of the new book "The Generation of Trust: How the U.S. Military Has Regained the Public's Confidence Since Vietnam" (American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research).


Those generations have come to "trust the government, and especially the U.S. military, more deeply than their baby boomer parents ever have," Professor King said.


Neil Howe, a co-author of books about generations who has consulted with the military on recruiting, said: "The idea of nationality, being a nation, is important to people shaped by 9/11. This is a generation that knows nations really matter. They trust government."


They are also steeped in the values of cooperation, teamwork and service in the schools, Mr. Howe said, adding, "`All of these things argue in favor of trust, or support, of the military."


Opinion polls back that up. A poll by the Harvard Institute of Politics, based on interviews with 1,200 college undergraduates last month, found that 75 percent said they trusted the military "to do the right thing" either "all of the time" or "most of the time." Two-thirds of the students said they supported the Iraq war. Hawks outnumbered doves more than 2 to 1.


In contrast, in 1975, 20 percent of people ages 18 to 29 said they had a great deal of confidence in those who ran the military, a Harris Poll found.


Researchers argue that the trend in part reflects simple experience. Young people coming of age during quick and successful military actions, like the Persian Gulf war in 1991 — "It looked and felt like a video game, and America won it decisively," Professor King said — or the action in Iraq this year are quite likely to have very different attitudes from those who came of age during the Vietnam War.


"How the military is doing has a lot to do with it," a sophomore in Mr. Sunderdick's class, Jessi Dexheimer, 15, said. "Now that they've done so well in Iraq, people feel good about them. But people felt differently about Vietnam."


Todd Gitlin, a professor of sociology at Columbia and a scholar of the 1960's, said: "If you grew up in the 60's, the military is to some degree tainted. I won't say forever tainted. But it is tainted by its implication in the Vietnam War. And if you came of age in the last five or six years, the military looks a lot more like defense than aggression."


Professor King said his research showed that people born in 1952 reflected the lowest level of trust in the military. They were 16 in the year of the Tet offensive, the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a high water mark in the antiwar movement.


In Mr. Sunderdick's class, Vietnam seemed very distant history. Even the teacher was born after Saigon fell. Several students said they thought that the Iraq war was much more like World War II, a war with a clear rationale waged by a country intent on defending itself, reflecting the effectiveness of the Bush administration's case for going to war.


"We actually got attacked," a student, Jessica Cowman, said. "In Vietnam, it wasn't an attack on us. We got hit in World War II, at Pearl Harbor, and we got hit in New York and at the Pentagon. It wasn't like that with Vietnam."


Another student, Stephanie Isberg, said: "People are more personally affected, especially by 9/11. My uncle almost died. So I have a more positive viewpoint about going in and taking out terrorists than I probably would have if nothing had happened."


Since Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Sunderdick said later, students in his government classes seemed far more engaged "in how things work, why we do what we do."


Another teacher, Angela Sugg, head of the social studies department at Mount Hebron, said she had noticed more students reciting the Pledge of Allegiance since Sept. 11, 2001.


"I even remember kids right after 9/11 saying, `I guess we better say it,' " Ms. Sugg said.


Peter D. Feaver, an associate professor of political science at Duke and an expert on relations between military and civilians, said the terrorist attacks brought home to Americans their "personal connection to the mission of the military."


"In the post-cold-war era," Professor Feaver said, "from when the walls fell down to when the towers fell down, Americans didn't have a lot of personal connection to the mission. It was what I called a voyeuristic connection to the military."


There are other factors. Professor King said the military had improved its performance and professionalism, symbolized by "a well-trained all-volunteer force." Added to that are years of advertising by the services and, even more important, popular culture. The dark movies about Vietnam gave way to more upbeat visions like "Top Gun" and "An Officer and a Gentleman."


Even so, the growing popularity does not, necessarily, translate into a surge in enlistments, experts say.


Spokesmen for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines said they were all hitting their recruiting goals even before the terrorist attacks and the ensuing military actions, and that they had been doing so for at least the last few years.


A spokesman for the Air Force Recruiting Service, First Lt. Jason McCree, said calls as well as visits to the Air Force Web site increased when the Iraq war began.


"As far as qualified applicants coming up to recruiters," Lieutenant McCree added, "we have not seen an increase. We've been doing really well as far as recruiting, and we've continued to do well."


In Mr. Sunderdick's class, all the students said they viewed the military positively and supported the troops; 7 of the 18 said they would consider the military as a potential career.

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  • 3 weeks later...

As a "flaming liberal," whose being forced to move out of the United States just because I am one, I have to speak out on a few things that I've been reading here.


First, I no longer "believe" in the United States as a beacon of "freedom, liberty and justice for all" as I once did. For reasons that I won't go into in this forum (but will be happy to discuss privately), I will say that I've long since become disillusioned with the hypocrisy of many of the people running the government whose name is on my passport.


Second, while I am voluntarily exiling myself, that exile isn't completely voluntary. I've been subjected to harassment and intimidation by the current American administration simply because I don't agree with it. It's been made clear to me that if I don't love America, I should get out. Well, they've robbed me of that love, so I am. Yes, it's really happening in America. I've never commited a crime and have never been arrested. Yet I'm still a target and I'm still being harassed.


Rather than serve the interests of an oligarchy, Costa Rica's 1948 constitution was written specifically to meet the needs of its people and protect their rights, and to institutionalize checks on the kind of abuse of power that I have been subjected to here in the "land of the free and the home of the brave." That's one reason I'm going there - my sense of the Tico people is that they are, unlike Americans, still commited to democratic (small "d") ideals, and take their rights seriously and watch their government with a healthy skepticism. Perhaps it is because they have been witness to what has happened in neighboring nations in recent decades.


I realize that Costa Rica is far from perfect. I've been there, and have traveled around the country, and have seen it, warts and all. And its democracy, as well as its human rights record, is neither perfect, nor secure. But in the end, a people who cherish their freedom and liberty, who view their government with skepticism and an attitude of vigilance, and who watch closely those who govern them, are far more likely to remain free than are a people who take their freedoms for granted, and simply assume that whoever is in power is serving their needs and governing with their best interests in mind. Ticos only need look around their region to realize that doesn't always happen. That is why I have chosen to throw in my lot with them.


And for that reason, I'm a firm supporter of the ban on the military that exists in the 1948 constitution. It has served Ticos well over the decades, and has been largely responsible for much of the progress that Costa Rica has made against the inequality, poverty, squalor, disease and turmoil that has afflicted its neighbors. Costa Rica has been without a military for 55 years, and has proven that even a small and highly vulnerable nation surrounded by highly militarized and occasionally politically hostile regimes, can still survive - indeed, not only survive, but prosper - and prosper to an even greater extent than her enemies.


And so it is my promise, that as an American moving to Costa Rica, I will support those ideals and help Costa Ricans fight for them and maintain them, against the growing influence of foreign political men and ideologies that seek to militarize a peaceful - and peace loving - nation, and seek to undermine its democratic values and turn the power of its government to the service of a powerful few rather than the interests of all.


I view with admiration what Costa Rica has accomplished in spite of all its problems and limitations, and I am proud of what it has proven to the world about war and about militaries. I just wish the rest of the world would learn from its example. The framers of the 1948 constitution, flawed though it may be, were truly men of vision. May we, the inheritors of that vision, have the wisdom and the courage to implement it worldwide. It is evident to me why it was that when a site was being sought to build an international university dedicated to the furtherance of peace, Costa Rica was the nation that was chosen.



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While most of us love our native homes (such as the USA), we often are very unhappy with the governments. I know that I'm concerned with the size and the power. Maybe that's one reason we're attracted to smaller, yet stable, countries such as Costa Rica.


Yet, I understand that Costa Rica's politicians can become very passionate over their beliefs. I understand also that the third-largest political party in the U.S. - the Libertarians - have become popular in Costa Rica. No surprise, I guess, as the Libertarians believe in less government and less taxes, and a "live-and-let-live" society. I was raised in Colorado, USA to believe that the US Constitution basically provides a country where you can do anything you want - so long as you don't cross the line and infringe on another person's rights. I really like that. If only government would respect that same basic principle!

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