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Walk away.

Life has been lazy and safe, for me. Never spent the night outdoors, unless it was a camp-out. Never been hungry, except when I’ve tried losing weight. Never faced danger, except accidentally — poor driving, bad horsemanship, etc. It’s been a pampered, pudgy existence, and I’ve always tried to walk away from confrontation.

My dad walked right up to it. The world was at war, again, and he wanted to do his part, so he lied about his age and enlisted in the Army at 15 years of age. That’s very patriotic or very stupid, or both, or maybe they're the same thing.

For his bravery, the Army made my dad a cook, at a training camp, stateside. He never saw the action he’d been itching for, never even left American soil, and the war ended only a few months after he’d illegally signed up. 

Like many veterans, my dad never wanted to talk about his time in the war, but for him it was because there was nothing to talk about. Gotta give him credit, though. He wanted to fight in that war, so he signed up. He peeled potatoes instead of storming the beach at Normandy, but I respect what my old man did.

I’m also glad he fought with only beans and biscuits, and came home vertical instead of horizontal, else I wouldn't be typing this.

♦ ♦ ♦

When I was 15, America was at war again. Boys just a few years older than me were forced into the military, to fight and maybe die on the wrong side of a war in east Asia.

By good luck the killing in Vietnam was over before my number came up, but if I’d been drafted I already knew I would’ve run to Canada. Or gone underground, gone gay, whatever it took to get away.

Even as a kid I’d decided, there was no way I’d join the military to defend the United States of America. Absolutely fuck no. Call me when another tyrant with a bad mustache tries to rule the world, or some country invades or attacks the USA, and I’ll come to her defense. That hadn’t happened, though, and it’s never happened since. Quite the opposite, in my six decades plus on the planet, every US military invasion and attack and bombing has been at least arguably wrong, and most have been unambiguously wrong. 

Some people choose to march, like my old man, and even in our all-volunteer Army, many are still ‘drafted’ — by circumstance, because the military is the only decent work available. Either way, whatever compels a person to enlist, it takes courage I’ve always happily lacked.

Whenever possible, I prefer not killing people, and also not being killed. I’ve always tried to walk away from a fight rather than get bruised, and been bruised only when I didn’t walk away fast enough. I can walk pretty fast.

12/8/2021

itsdougholland.com 

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