Sunday, June 13, 2004

Small Towns, Big Dreams, and Sad Statistics...

Joe Bageant brought up some information that goes in my 'Thing That Make You Cry' file.

    Forty-six percent of the American dead in Iraq came from towns of less than 40,000. Yet these towns make up only 25% of our population. Most of the young soldiers were fleeing economically depressed places, or dead end jobs...These so-called volunteers are part of this nation's de facto draft---economic conscription.

I would like to point out that these towns have some of the lowest populations of youth, too, so I'm sure they have been very hard hit by these losses. Since I've never lived anywhere small, or any particular place for more than a few years, it is hard for me to imagine how these deaths have affected their communities. But when I try to imagine it, it hurts.

Joe very quickly falls out of favor with me, though, because he dismisses the American soldier's ability to follow their dreams by using the GI-Bill. Those kids, like all the rest, need to hear that of COURSE they can achieve their dreams. The key is determination. And it's hard to keep your chin up when smirking know-it-all writers say, "I suppose lots of poor kids do go to college on their military benefits. But personally speaking, I can count the number I know who actually did it on one hand. Let's be honest here: graduating from a small town redneck white high school not knowing where Alaska is on a map of the US is not exactly the path to the fountain at Harvard Yard."

Thanks for the stats, Joe, but shame on you for dismissing ANYONE's ambition to improve themselves. Shame, shame, shame. Seeds can only grow with proper nurturance, and you aren't helping.

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