A Little Boy In A Marine Uniform

May 29th, 2017  |   

As the Memorial Day weekend comes to a close, always a bittersweet holiday, thinking about war and death, I can’t get a little boy off my mind. His picture was on the front page of the Charleston Gazette last week. He was dressed in a Marine Corps Dress Blue uniform. These costumes can be purchased at Walmart or Amazon. He was marching in the Armed Forces Day Parade in South Charleston.

The little boy brought to mind my putting on a Marine Corps Dress Blue uniform in June, 1958, when I was 22-years-old, newly married and on my way to Marine Corps Basic Training School in Quantico, Virginia.

When I set sail for duty in Southeast Asia, just 10 days after my son Stephen was born, I knew nothing about Southeast Asia, its people or history. There’s nothing unusual, however, about that. The troops we have sent to fight in places like Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, too often had no idea where they were going, and have had little or no knowledge about the designated enemy they might be called upon to kill.

It’s highly likely that this boy, and plenty more boys and girls his age, will be called upon to go to war. That’s because our nation is in what’s being called a “perpetual war,” more aptly described as an “endless war.” Its roots are buried in the Vietnam War, and a long list of wars that followed that conflict. Sad to say, I see no end in sight. Which means more bloodshed, more military graves, and more little boys and girls trained in the art of killing.

Worthy of note is the fact that since 1991, both political parties—all four presidents—have taken our nation into a series of senseless wars with no exit in sight. We have wasted lives as well as financial and human resources that could have been put to a better use, in an effort to shore up our democracy. The sacrifice has been enormous.

This little boy, in his Marine Dress Blue uniform, is the next generation in our militarized state.

President Trump has just authorized $110 billion worth of military armament to Saudi Arabia. Since Saudi Arabia is supplying weaponry to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Syria, these weapons will be used against our troops. This is outrageous and we must protest his misguided action. If this boy should ever put on an authentic military uniform, I do not want him to face weapons made in the U.S.A.

Since WW II, we have been engaged in wars that have not been constitutionally declared by Congress. This boy may march in the streets of South Charleston, but he should not be sent to any war that has not been declared by Congress.

One last thought before bedtime. Our nation may be too steeped in violence and war for our children to learn, particularly in school and at home, that there are alternatives to military service. Our nation has an honorable and patriotic tradition of conscientious objection to war. I wish to God our places of worship would rise to the task of teaching our children about the nonviolent options available for patriotic service.


Entry Filed under: Fig Tree Notes Archives

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Nations will hammer swords into plows, their spears into sickles, there shall be no more training for war. Each person will sit under his or her fig tree in peace.
Micah 4:3 - 4