I don't blame them. The ROTC represents a set of values that are quite alien to contemporary American academia. These values can, if embraced, affect how people act in a crisis situation. A case in point:
An Overheated Bank Robber in TexasJune 12, 2008, wasn't exactly a cool day in Fort Worth, Texas. The high was just under 100 °F, the low was 74 and a fraction. (wunderground.com)
So, the fellow in a long coat, hat, and a beard, stood out. The gorilla bag1 he was carrying didn't make him any less conspicuous. That description reminded me of the incredible flying imams of Minnesota, who bundled up one hot summer day (no kidding).
The unseasonable attire caught the attention of Donald Murrah and his buddy, David Long. Something was obviously wrong with the picture. Since Mr. Coat was walking into a bank, the odds were that a bank robbery was about to happen. Neither of them were police officers, so they couldn't do anything about the situation.
Except keep an eye on the bank.
The coat, hat, beard and overheated person came back out of the bank, tried to start a Honda, and, failing that, went to a car in the ATM line. That car drove off, so Mr. Coat tried to carjack a van with a woman and two kids inside.
By that time, Murrah and Long were catching up to Mr. Coat, with Murrah in the lead. Murrah flipped Mr. Coat over and relieved him of what looked like a starter pistol. Murrah and Long restrained Mr. Coat until the police showed up. The 'starter pistol' was a 22 caliber revolver.
Murrah is Master Sergeant Donald S. Murrah of the U.S. Army. Long is First Sergeant David M. Long, U.S. Army, retired. Murrah wound up with a medal but, with due respect, I don't think he's all that special.
He simply did what an American NCO would reasonably be expected to do in a situation like that.
On the other hand, all Army sergeants stationed in Korea might not decide that studying Tai Kwon Do was a better use of time that going to bars. Murrah did, though, and earned a black belt.
Cold, Bloodthirsty Soldiers: A Reality CheckQuite a few people seem to think an American soldier, meeting people overseas, "shakes hands and shoots them the next day," as someone put it in a roundtable I attended the other day. Public perception of the American military has improved a bit since the Vietnam era, but some people never seem to have left the seventies.
Part of the military's reputation for being dangerous is quite justified. If you're robbing a bank, one of the last things you'd want would be to have two Army sergeants outside, waiting for you.
The rest of us, in America, really don't have that much to worry about, when it comes to 'those soldiers.' American soldiers are remarkably selective about who they get rough with.
Core Values of the U.S. ArmyThe United States Army has what it calls "core values." They may sound corny, or old-fashioned, but I think they're also common-sense virtues that any society needs:
- Selfless Service
- Personal Courage
JROTC: It's Not a Recruiting ToolMaster Sergeant Murrah works with the JROTC in Texas. He assured a roundtable recently that JROTC is not a recruiting tool for the Army. He said that JROTC teaches discipline and leadership skills that youngsters can use in adult life.
I think that's true, but I also think that there are far worse things people can do with their lives, than pursue a career in the American military.
Vaguely related posts:
- "Looting in the News: Rape, Pillage, and the America Way"
(November 24, 2008)
- "EEEK! Guns! Hoplophobia and Foreign Policy"
(December 23, 2007)
- "There are Heroes"
(November 19, 2007)
- "Shocking! American University Forced to Allow American Military Recruiters On Campus!"
(October 1, 2007)
- "Killer Crusaders Bait, Murder, Innocent Iraqis!"
(September 25, 2007)
- "Minnesota Imams Change Lawsuit Hit List"
(August 1, 2007)
- "Army Core Values In Action"
A Soldier's Mind (February 18, 2009)
- "Haltom City Junior ROTC instructor receives Soldier's Medal for stopping bank robbery"
The Dallas Morning News (February 18, 2009)
1 "Gorilla bag" - a bag 9 x 13 x 19 inches in size. (Letter from Office of the Commanding General, Department of the Army, Headquarters, United States Army Recruiting Command Dear Future Recruiter:" (pdf))