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October 2, 2008
Speaking Truth to PowerBy Greyhawk
Not surprising news - the San Francisco school board wants to ban JROTC from the city's high schools:
If a school board decision stands, San Francisco would become the first city to remove a Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program.Will they succeed? If so, it won't be due to a lack of opposition to their efforts:
Supporters view the elective course as valuable self-improvement — teaching them discipline, responsibility and leadership skills they say they do not get in other classes.And who are these supporters? They are actual high school students - who are actually taking on the powers that be, attempting to circumvent the board's destruction of their program by fiat using the power of democracy:
Even as the debate went on and board members held their ground, students and their parents gathered enough signatures to put an advisory measure on the ballot asking voters to show their support for keeping JROTC.The AP story also points out that "enrollment in San Francisco's JROTC has declined by about two-thirds in the past year." If the remaining third is "90 percent minorities" one could infer that the program has seen an exodus of "non-minority" students, leaving behind a group for whom the board feels no urgent need to support. Kudos to those students for taking it to the streets and taking on the man rather than passively submitting to the whims of a school board more concerned with their own political statement (or perhaps more concerned at the thought of a group of disciplined, self-motivated and hard-working kids in their school system) than with the future aspirations of a minority of students who don't subscribe to their worldview or don't "know their place" in the grand scheme of all that is San Francisco.
Perhaps unaware that a new administration will be in place in Washington before they can eliminate the program, one San Francisco school board member explained the reasoning behind the programs pending demise:
"It's a broader issue about the Bush administration and military recruiting through JROTC," said board member Eric Mar.But as the story also makes clear, "If the aim is recruitment, however, JROTC in San Francisco is a failure. Only two of the 1,465 cadets there signed up for the armed forces after graduation in 2006-2007, the latest year for which numbers are available."
However, a more interesting statistic isn't provided. That would be how many Junior ROTC students went on to ROTC in college. While many JROTC students learn by experience that the military is not for them - a much better way to learn than by enlisting - many others take advantage of the college scholarship/stipend money available to qualified students, a consideration that may at least get them in the door of an academic institution they otherwise could not afford. Once established there, they can still opt out of ROTC later without incurring a service commitment should they so choose. Meanwhile, those who graduate college and pursue a military career will earn the new GI Bill - a benefit that will easily allow them to obtain an advanced degree upon completion of their military career.
Which is one reason why - outside of San Francisco - "...participation in JROTC has climbed steadily around the country, with additional funding approved by Congress. The program reached 3,351 schools and 503,306 cadets in 2006 — the latest numbers available from the Pentagon — and there is a waiting list of more than 700 schools that have requested JROTC."
For actual military recruiting news, we turn to the other coast:
Nine young men and women joined the Army Wednesday in a Times Square ceremony - just days before the Defense Department announces it reached its recruitment goals for a third straight year.
Posted by Greyhawk / October 2, 2008 1:42 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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