First, there is this news item:
Army in Worst Recruiting Slump in Decades
By ROBERT BURNS
The Army is closing the books on one of the leanest recruiting years since it
became an all-volunteer service three decades ago, missing its enlistment
target by the largest margin since 1979 and raising questions about its plans
The Army National Guard and the Army Reserve,
which are smaller than the regular Army, had even worse
[ excerpts ] September 30, 2005 - 8:57 a.m.
Then, there is Hurricane
And now because of an event a few miles
north of Denver, there is a news story that causes me to be concerned
about the welfare of my son, a middle school student, and
all of his classmates.
We must applaud any effort to help the
hurricane victims, and be grateful to those who help the helpers. I volunteered
to support hurricane victims at the decommissioned Lowry Air Force Base in
Denver, and it was a rewarding experience.
The National Guard from states around the
nation have played a role, and while we might have concerns about response
times, policy, and perhaps behavior, some sort of
organized effort has been vital to saving lives.
And citizens supporting soldiers isn't
anything new. One of the most significant historical accounts of such actions
was the North Platte Canteen during the second world war.
But the Longmont Daily Times-Call
has published an article that should raise questions, even as it is
rightfully appreciative of the effort to assist hurricane victims. Why?
Because it involves soldiers and children.
Children showed soldiers
where they would be sleeping . . . [excerpt]
Alert parents should wonder to what
extent the hurricane disaster is being used as a cover for solving military
recruitment problems by introducing travelling National Guard units to twelve
[photo] Tech Sgt. Travis Weitzel of the
Idaho Air National Guard talks with interested Coal Ridge Middle School
students Thursday as the troops settle in for the night at the Firestone
school. Community members provided food and drinks for the soldiers.
The Times-Call article
about 250 National Guard soldiers visiting a Longmont area middle
school is a "puff" piece, cheering for the
arrangement while asking no serious questions. The reporter wasn't interested in
how this arrangement came about, was apparently incurious about why the soldiers
weren't following expected procedure (staying at one of the many military
bases in Colorado), and apparently saw no possibility of an ulterior motive.
We might wonder: were there any parents who
objected? Is this an isolated incident? Are National Guard units throughout
the country checking into Middle Schools where they can sow future recruits
by fascinating our children with their military toys?
middle school students
want[ed] to know everything about them, including what was in their duffel
bags and how heavy their rifles were. [excerpt]
How can a reporter not ask the hard
questions in the middle of a war that more than half the country no longer
Why didn't the newspaper research how this
came about, and whether we can anticipate more of the same?
Did someone know someone, or is this part
of some unpublicized government program?
Who initiated the contact?
Is the cheerleading tone of the
following article due to blind patriotism, ignorance, or
Publish Date: 9/30/2005
What a Warm
School, community provide haven for Idaho troops heading to
By Paula Aven
The Daily Times-Call
FIRESTONE — They
circled their camouflaged Humvees like wagons before unloading their personal
gear and heading up the American flag-lined driveway to Coal Ridge Middle
As the more than 250 soldiers
attached to the Idaho National Guard hauled their gear into the school, they
were overwhelmed by enthusiastic middle school students wanting to know
everything about them, including what was in their duffel bags and how heavy
their rifles were.
The soldiers also were greeted with a
place to lay their sleeping bags and a common room filled with teachers,
school staff, community volunteers and foods of every description.
It wasn’t the welcome they were
The soldiers are traveling through
Colorado on their way to Louisiana, where they will help out those areas
devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. All they asked from the St. Vrain
Valley School District was an indoor place to bed down.
Superintendent Randy Zila and his
staff decided Coal Ridge could handle such a large group.
The staff at the school had two days’
notice that they would be hosting the soldiers. Like a National Guard unit,
they quickly mobilized, telling the community what was happening and asking
for donations of food to help feed the soldiers when they arrived Thursday
Teachers had students write thank-you
letters for the soldiers, and more than 50 students stayed after school
Thursday to bake cookies, brownies and muffins and to stuff goody bags full of
candy and sweets for the troops to take on the road with them.
“Our teacher told us we were the
third school district they asked. It’s been an awesome experience for us to
thank them for serving our country,” said 13-year-old Christine McCall, a Coal
Principal Paul Talafuse manned a
large grill outside the school, making hamburgers and bratwursts beginning at
around 4 p.m., when the first of five convoys arrived at the school.
Children showed soldiers where they
would be sleeping, while others helped cut up brownies, slice cakes and
organize the potluck foods delivered by teachers and community members
throughout the day.
Numerous businesses and individuals
donated money, food or time to the cause, and the soldiers were overwhelmed.
“It’s been really hospitable here,”
said Spc. Joseph Ritchey of Boise, Idaho. “The food is excellent, and the
people are so generous.”
Master Sgt. Charles Butterfield said,
“We were happy to have a place indoors to sleep and take showers, but it is
nice to see us supporting our own nation. It’s pretty awesome.”
Ritchey, like many of the soldiers,
said he didn’t know what to expect in Louisiana.
“A lot of cleanup and, hopefully,
helping people out as much as we can,” he said.
Zila told the St. Vrain Valley Board
of Education on Wednesday night that the district was pleased “to provide that
kind of assistance and support” to the National Guard.
“They are going to an area that needs
a lot of help, but they were called to duty from their own jobs,” he said.
Paula Aven Gladych can be reached at
303-684-5211 or email@example.com
I don't think we should automatically,
categorically condemn this situation, perhaps there is an explanation that
makes sense. But the article didn't shed the necessary light, and we won't get
answers unless we press the issue. And since National Guard units are on the
front lines in Iraq, every parent should be concerned.
If you're feeling a little bit alarmed and
are wondering, as I am, then please request an explanation.
The Longmont Daily Times-Call is
The Daily Times-Call
350 Terry Street
The reporter, Paula Aven Gladych, is at 303-684-5211
The information for the Superintendent of the
school is here:
ST. VRAIN VALLEY
395 S. Pratt Parkway
Longmont, CO 80501