September 24, 2009

"Fight for Freedom"

In the past twenty-four hours, I've run into quite a few interesting concepts. One is class. This is apparently something we have to go to in college. Strangely, this class thing often involves work (gasp) and extensive amounts of time spent not being able to hit Foco, or play squash, or randomly travel around exploring campus.

I wasn't really expecting "school shock" to hit quite so hard in college. Yeah, I was wrong about that.

But attending my first two college classes, though exciting and amazing, wasn't even the most intriguing or thought-provoking part of my day. That distinction ended up belonging to a few minutes in Collis at the Activities Fair. (I'm on so many new blitzlists now it makes my head spin.) But the point of this story isn't blitzlists-- or the free pizza we were given-- or even the equally free candy. The point of this story is the three words I heard coming from a stranger's mouth.

"Fight for freedom!"

Interesting enough in general, but at an activities fair? Perhaps the words came from a secret rebel Dartmouth society. Or from the organization that promotes awareness about the suppression of North Korea. Or from the marching band (an interesting new campaign against Harvard?).

But as I turned to glance in the direction of the person who had uttered those fiery syllables I saw no rebels or Korean activists or horn players. No, I saw someone in uniform-- a uniform with the words "U.S. Army" printed right on the front. It was a soldier, promoting the United States Army, recruiting a few fresh young students to his cause.

My first reaction upon seeing the truth of the source of the words was admittedly a bit of disbelief. I knew the military would be present at Dartmouth, of course, but for some reason I hadn't through of Dartmouth kids as the kind to drop out of, well, Dartmouth to join the United States Army.

But the important thing here really isn't my prior misconceptions about the existence of the armed forces at Dartmouth. The important thing is those three words and their meaning: "Fight for freedom." Now, the soldier was probably talking about the fact that the American armed forces are over in Iraq and Afghanistan and presumably working toward democracy and a fairer government... to freedom. However, there are many ways to think of the statement "Fight for freedom." One would inspire thoughts of rebellion from the Army (which isn't necessary because I'm not joining up. Thank God). This first makes me chuckle a bit with wry laughter because the Army is generally the institution faced with little trepidation about "the Man"; in fact there have been times in our history in which the Army has enforced the Man's word without a second thought.

"Fight for freedom." I honestly did shake my head at the bitter humor of those words. The Army, one of the most conventional and traditional institutions on Earth, exhorting young people to rise up and "fight for freedom"? Of course, once you walk over there and sign your name down, you have to do what you're told (a.k.a. can't talk badly about the college, classes, food, or anything else that isn't politically correct). But in that moment this bored (or exultant in the line of duty-- I sure don't know which it is) young man inspired me to think about what, exactly, it means to fight for freedom. In one literal sense, as I said, it speaks of the two wars the United States is now fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. In another it could mean to fight against the Army, against organized government, against all that is our traditional American hierarchy.

"Fight for freedom." But which freedoms are we fighting for? And how hard will we fight? These are questions worth asking...


  1. Anonymous1:28 PM

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  2. gravy1:26 AM

    The US Army ROTC program produces leaders who fight for the freedoms of ordinary Americans. First of all, you fail to realize that the Army Officer at the activities fair was not actually advocating 'dropping out'; he instead was offering a program of government subsidized education (at Dartmouth) in exchange for five years of service in the US Army Officer's Corps. Nobody wants anybody to quit college. 'Nuff said.

    And with regards to the actual ROTC program itself, where would you be if there was no Army of the United States? If the USA were overrun by fanatical extremists, and there was nobody to stop them, do you think that you would be able to, say, publish this blog? No. You would, in all likelihood, be arrested, and probably detained for an extended period of time.

    I'm not saying that you have to serve in the United States Armed Forces; the luxury of a peacetime military is that it is composed of people who actually give a shit about freedom and liberty. Just don't bash it while its members fight, and yes, die, for you.

  3. Ok, gravy maybe you could tell me exactly when this country actually "fought for our freedom" AFTER the end of the civil war in 1865..the answer is zero.. no one is fighting for our freedom, not you, not the rotc, no one... if im not mistaken it was 1841 that a country actually invaded America for the last time... that would be fighting for freedom.. 911, isnt a war for freedom..those soldiers are freedom fighters.. there is a difference.. maybe you should get your flag covered ass off the history channel and fox news and actually READ a book