July 17, 2007

What is the life of a 17-year-old worth?

Two stories caught my eye today—one from the Rockford Register Star, the newspaper of my adopted hometown of Rockford, Illinois, and one from the Grand Haven Tribune, which I grew up reading in Spring Lake, Michigan.  Each is the story of a young man who “volunteered to serve his country.”  One, Christopher D. Kube, is returning to Macomb County, Michigan, in a body bag, victim of an IED explosion; the other, Ian Fiduccia, watched his roommate die and suffered second-degree burns and hearing loss when his Humvee was hit by a suicide bomber.

The attack on Fiduccia’s Humvee happened a week ago.  He’s already been cleared to return to active duty.

Both young men were 18.  And both enlisted at age 17, which required that they get permission from their parents.  Fiduccia’s father, a Winnebago County Board member, says that, despite his son’s injury, he will “leave foreign policy debate to others and will continue to support the U.S. role in Iraq.”  Kube leaves behind a teenaged widow, and four brothers and sisters younger than he.  His mother, with no hint of irony, said of the incident in which her son was killed, “He volunteered for that mission.  My son wasn’t even supposed to be there.”

Neither of them should have been, yet both families went along with the recruiters who prowl the halls of high schools, preying on the patriotic sentiments of young men barely old enough to drive, and too young even to vote for the men who sent them off to war—men who, almost to a man, avoided service in their own contemporary wars.

What is the life of a 17-year-old worth?  For the neocons in the Bush administration, not much—as long as it’s not their own.


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