In May of 2004, I noted a column by former Denver Broncos running back Reggie Rivers in the Denver Post. I didn’t have any luck finding a working link to the story in the Post, but luckily for us Common Dreams has it: Keep our Slaves Safe. Rivers wrote:
Our military is one of the last bastions of slavery in the United States. At the moment, our slaves are stuck in a combat zone, getting killed and maimed, and there’s nothing they can do about it except hunker down and pray.
Yes, our slaves signed up of their own free will, but most of them were as misled about their job as the rest of us were about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
And I don’t think “slave” is too strong a word to describe someone who is not permitted to quit his job no matter how dangerous it becomes or how much he hates it. For most of us, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery and guaranteed that we have the right to withhold our labor. It doesn’t protect soldiers.
The story ran on May 28th. Yep. Memorial Day weekend.
Anyway, I’ve been noticing a number of incoming Googles for Reggie Rivers lately. I’m not sure what that’s all about, but earlier today I received this:
I am a veteran of the first Gulf War. A soldier, sailor or airman cannot get out of service once he signs up. Yes, it is a contract but it seems that the military is the only group that cannot renegotiate a contract. In essence, you are a slave.
First, I would like to thank the commenter for his service to me and mine. Secondly, I wonder what actual slaves think of the silly equivalence game being played here.
Shortly after, this comment was posted:
Let us military men and women take a trip down memory lane.
We all signed up. That is, we all voluntarily signed up. Some did our homework when it came to understanding all facets of what was involved, others signed up rather than do something else like going to jail or getting a civilian job (which requires more effort than signing your name to a contract).
The statement made by Paul in that it “seems that the military is the only group that cannot re-negotiate a contract” begs the question, in what way would he re-negotiate? Because he makes the statement that “in essence, you are a slave” I have to assume by re-negotiation he would end it completely. True or not Paul? What would you re-negotiate if not to get out when you wanted to?
Honestly, the military is the easy way out. Only when the rubber meets the road do you actually realize what you got yourself into. As it becomes apparent the road is a hard one…boo friggin’ hoo, you want out. Renegotiate my ass. You knew what it was going to be like…if you didn’t, shame on you.
When I signed up, I wanted to go to school. The GI Bill was for me. Even as a reservist in the USMC I got money for school and was going to make a life for myself. And I did. I graduated back in December 2001 with a business degree.
In 2003 I was called up for active duty. Time for me to go to the dance in the desert. Did I balk and say not for me I got my education screw you? No, this whole time I was going to school I knew what my role was. I knew that being in the friggin’ Armed Forces of the United States of America may at some point might require me to go some place I didn’t really feel like going. What did I do? I went as was requested. And do you know what? I too was held under the stop-loss program. The program developed to ensure operational readiness. The program was implemented to ensure experience leads the way.
What is the purpose and function of the Armed Forces? To fight, plain and simple. Not to provide you with an education. Not to provide you the opportunity to see the world. Not to give you adequate job skills to make it in society when you get out. Those are excellent by-products but that’s all they are. If you’re ignorant enough to get lured in for those reasons then yes, I can see how you think not allowing you to get out rather than doing what you told my country you would do (remember your Oath of Enlistment) is slavery in nature. But you already know that this is your mind set and not the truth!
I can’t really think of anything to add.
UPDATE: But a reader thought of this. It was left in the comments but I think it’s too good to miss:
I am always amazed at people’s ability to bitch and moan when life doesn’t just give them sparkling french lemonade in glass long-neck bottles.
I was a slave to my parents for eighteen years.
I was a slave to liberal Democrats’ choice of President for eight years.
I am currently a slave to my employer, having freely signed a nine-year contract that lays out my responsibilities on a quarterly basis.
Fiona Apple is a slave to her cranky record label.
Lindsay Lohan is a slave to the public eye.
I am a slave to my landlords, having signed a lease.
I cannot re-negotiate my employment contract, my lease, or my life. I do not get everything I want. Sometimes things that people are supposed to do for me never happen, or they come late. Men I fall for do not always love me back. I was not genetically handed a perfect body.
But I will do what I am called to do when my time comes. Although my employment contract is with the US government (non-military), I do not pretend that they somehow OWE me a free education and I should be able to change my mind if they ask me to do something unpleasant later on. I committed to serve. And serve I will — happily and gratefully. As we all will serve one master or another — princes and paupers alike.
I like it when my readers write the posts for me…