Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Let 'Em Take Shot at Being a `Have'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Let 'Em Take Shot at Being a `Have'

Article excerpt

RETIRED MAJ. LILLIAN A. Pfluke, a 1975 graduate of West Point, appeared on ABC television Sunday and suggested that the Army's sexual harassment problems would be greatly diminished, maybe even eradicated, if women were eligible for combat positions.

"The problem is women are still totally excluded from any position that engages in direct ground combat," she said. "So you have the `haves' and the `have-nots.' Any time you have two classes of people, you're going to have some kind of tension."

Personally, I think an argument could be made that any time you have young men and young women together, you're going to have some kind of tension - I could cite any number of songs to back this up - but I am not here this morning to dispute the major's contentions. Maybe the Army would be a better institution if it allowed women in the infantry. At the very least, war movies would be more interesting. Coming soon: "The Adventures of Love Company." No, what really struck me about Pfluke's argument was her notion that the opportunity to get shot at makes a person a "have." I remember thinking just the opposite. On that long ago day when I was drafted, I had an English-German dictionary with me. I was clinging to the belief that I would end up in Germany. Friends had assured me that if I did well on certain tests, I would have my pick of occupational specialties. Just pick something that would put you in Germany, they told me. That made sense. Even at the height of the Vietnam War, the Army had a massive presence in Germany. Ever since Abraham Lincoln relieved Gen. George McClellan of command of the Army of the Potomac because he refused to lead his troops into battle, the McClellan motto has been: Somebody has to stand on the sidewalk and cheer while the parade goes by. Happy to be "have-nots." That's us. Fate threw a wrench into my Germany plans when I was told at the induction center that I was going into the Marine Corps. "The Marines need some bodies," the man explained, and rather indelicately I thought. I was in a deep funk on the plane to San Diego, but my spirits were lifted when I got to boot camp and had my head shaved. …

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