Time for Academies to Teach U.S. Youth to Wage Peace

By Gilroy, Jack | National Catholic Reporter, November 12, 1999 | Go to article overview

Time for Academies to Teach U.S. Youth to Wage Peace


Gilroy, Jack, National Catholic Reporter


From the window of the high school where I taught for three decades, I rarely gave a second look or thought to military recruiters stepping lively into the guidance department to encourage students to make the military their career choice.

Yet, after the Littleton, Colo., disaster, psychologists, educational leaders and media pundits have all rushed to analyze our violent nature with hardly a word said about the military connection to youth violence. It's as if a taboo was placed on criticizing our obsession with military might.

Obviously, most students don't accept the recruitment pitch, enter military service and learn to kill. But young men are very aware of how our country often settles disputes. They may not understand (as few of us do) why we bomb, invade or use CIA agents to subvert little countries such as Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Guatemala, Granada, Nicaragua, Chile, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Congo Republic, Sudan, Afghanistan, and so on -- but they watch it on TV, read about it in history texts or current events studies, and learn to accept fire, death and destruction as the American way of conflict resolution. In fact, they learn that our major heroes are not peacemakers but military figures who participated in violent conflict resolution.

It's time to give our children a new model on which to pattern their behavior. Only minutes after the president of the United States addressed the nation following the Columbine High School disaster and decried the presence of weapons in the hands of youth, he ordered another series of bombing attacks on the people of Yugoslavia and Iraq. Do we really believe that kind of response goes unnoticed in the minds of our children?

Military training is now available in many high schools around the nation. Reserve officer training is offered at hundreds of colleges and universities in the United States with free college tuition provided by a payback with military service. In addition, we have military academies for the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines. Beyond all that, we have a War (Defense) College in Washington, an Air War College, Marine War College, Army War College, Navy War College and hundreds of military bases around the nation. …

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