Friday, December 6, 2013

Enlisted Extended for the Duration

My father enlisted in the Army in December of 1939.  His enlistment was for just two years.  He was planning to get out in December of 1941.  In a very early version of the infamous Iraq War policy known as "Stop Loss," Dad was "extended for the duration" of the just declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy.

Dad and thousands of other soldiers in the peacetime Army of 1941 remained on active duty until late 1945 or 1946.

Except for Stop Loss the long Iraq and Afghanistan Wars did not stop discharges after a normal enlistment period of three or four years.  It was another way that these terrible wars were so different from World War 2.  

By the time the war ended nearly fifteen million Americans were serving uniform.  Soldiers got leave, rotated home, but the rule was everyone served for the duration.

Among the many things wrong with Iraq, Afghanistan and Viet Nam was the partial commitment.  Even though my Dad never left America, he knew he would be serving until all of our enemies surrendered.

The current war could end anytime between next year and 2024.  I hope if we go to war in the future, we will have an enemy and the whole nation will have a part in defeating that enemy.  

The Greek word that is at the root of Patriotism is Patria--patriotism is a fellowship based on love of country.  In World War 2 millions of families had soldiers serving in the war.  Many of those families ate less meat and sugar and used less gas as part of the war effort.  Wars should have a price--so we can decide whether or notr we want to pay that price.