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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

One Tall Voice: Of war and peace

Published: September 5, 2008
Section: Opinions

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to serve my country in our nation’s armed forces. This passion did not stem from the sentiments of youth, but was rather flowing from a sincere and unyielding patriotism. I had filled out an application to be inducted into the ROTC during my senior year of high school, but was provisionally disqualified. Since then I have considered joining again, and know that before I finally settle into a career, I shall dawn the uniform of an American serviceman. Perhaps it is because we are currently engaged with an enemy abroad, or perhaps it has always been so, but military service is a highly discussed topic on our campus and elsewhere. The ideology of peace and non-violence predominates this debate at Brandeis, a short-sided view that does not recognize the harsh realities of the modern world. Still others believe that there are different, more effective ways to serve one’s country, a belief that does not see the full contribution of military service. In addition, through this article, I would also like to throw my hat into the debate concerning homosexuals in the military, and (for once) agree with the views of many Brandeis students. Preventing openly gay citizens from joining the armed forces is wrong. A person’s patriotism, along with mental and physical fitness should be the only factors determining one’s ability to militarily serve our beloved country.

I remember the first time I entered the Peace Room during my freshmen year. This tucked away space in the Usdan Student Center is a revolting display of propaganda, as it includes a one-sided view of a very multi-faceted reality. Furnished like a hippie hashish-smoking room and containing an 8-foot tall statue of Ghandi, this place oozed the disgusting aura of blind non-violence. Worst of all, the room possessed a register of conscientious objectors, where Brandeis students had inscribed their names in order to represent themselves under this classification. This place was disgusting, this room was horrific. I felt like taking a flamethrower to the place. The room represented the blind pursuance of liberal ideals so indicative of our institution.

Don’t get me wrong, peace is always preferable to war. William T. Sherman was correct, “war is hell,” and I hope the children of our generation never have to protect their country in a full-scale military engagement. But war is oftentimes necessary in order to bring peace, conflict is oftentimes essential to protect our freedoms.

In fact, I would adamantly defend that it is often the best way to safeguard our valued liberties. Projecting an image of flaccidity and complacency bolsters our foes and weakens our ability to protect our country. Nevertheless, our university has an entire department dedicated to peace, conflict and coexistence. Clubs all around our campus preach the unyielding message of non-violence and peace. These groups are deluded whenever they talk against the efficacy of violent action. As the movie “Team America: World Police” conveys, “freedom isn’t free” and oftentimes must be paid for with the blood of violent activity.

I have heard people say many times that there are other ways to serves one’s country besides military service. For the most part, this belief is correct. I have spent two summers with Americorps and have witnessed firsthand the benefits of volunteerism. Through my internship with Teach For America, I have likewise seen the advantages of national service. But enlistment in the armed forces is nevertheless the best and noblest way to sacrifice for one’s country.

Whether or not you agree with the justness of recent military conflicts, being on guard for our nation’s defense is still a righteous duty. Forgoing many luxuries and being shipped around the world so that the rest of us can be more assured of our liberty is a mission that deserves the gratitude of every American citizen. Service in the military is the greatest way one can sacrifice for one’s country. It makes the serviceperson forgo many comforts so that our cherished freedoms can be protected.

Loyal readers of my column will note that I hardly ever take a position aligned with the views of a majority of Brandeisians. On the issue of gays in the military, however, I see this stance to be the most rational position. The military’s current policy concerning homosexuals is abysmal. It is prejudicial and wrong as it bars patriotic and willing Americans from serving their country.

In fact, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, as it is colloquially called, has expelled nearly a thousand servicemen each year from out nation’s armed forces. This policy is wrong. Any person, regardless of sexuality, should have the opportunity to serve in the military. People are allowed to practice their religion and other life preferences while in the service, so why should they be barred from certain sexual lifestyles? Sexual preference should have no bearing in selection to the military, so long as one’s life choices do not negatively affect one’s competency as a soldier. Homosexuals are just as willing and able to serve as anyone else and should be allowed the opportunity to openly join our nation’s armed services.

I have always considered myself a lover, not a fighter, but military might is oftentimes the most effective means to protect our sacred liberties.

For this reason, I hold military service with the highest regard and believe it to be the supreme way to sacrifice for one’s country. In addition, I do not think that this honor should be restricted from members of the gay community, as they are just as capable and competent as any other citizens to militarily serve their country.

I hope to one day attain the honor of a U.S. serviceman. I hope to one day answer the call to my nation’s defense. I suppose then I will have to sacrifice my glorious “Jew-fro” for a shorter military cut. This will be just one of the many ways I eventually hope to sacrifice for my beloved country.