Over at the Republic of Dogs the other day, Res Publica posted a sample of an Oklahoma license plate showing an eagle in front of the Twin Towers. The pissed looking eagle sports a red band at the base of its throat touting 9-11, to ensure we know what it’s mad about, and to the side there is the statement GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM. Did I mention the twin towers are blue? And the bald eagle’s head is, of course, white. So there we have something of a new flag in the making.

Inspired, I rushed to see what the red state of Georgia was offering its motorists.

There are no samples available yet but Georgia seems to be suggesting we are warring against terrorism and Iraqi freedom with its new GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM & IRAQI FREEDOM plate. Also offered is a GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM & OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM plate.

Hey, but wait. Also NEW! (in bold red letters with an exclamation mark) is a plate for Gold Star Families of individuals killed in action.

It just seemed so wrong, that bright red NEW! Like you’d get on a site selling novelty t-shirts. NEW! All cheery and welcoming. Come take this car for a spin.

The same day a friend had an upsetting encounter with a military recruiter who was insisting that her daughter had requested information. You can read about it at her blog, but I’ll note here that it seems her daughter, when in high school, had taken the ASVAB, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.

In addition, the federal No Child Left Behind Act requires schools that receive federal funding to provide military recruiters with students’ names, addresses and phone numbers unless parents have opted out. Schools also must allow recruiters to have the same access to campuses that colleges have.

The military’s vocational aptitude test is not part of the No Child Left Behind requirement, and the test’s “career explorations” Web site says students who agree to take the test aren’t making any obligations.

Source: Common Dreams

It seems that not everyone is getting the news that you don’t have to take this test. In our state of Georgia, some students who refused to take it, well, they had to take it anyway.

…about half of the school’s juniors refused to even leave their regular classes to report to the testing site in the school’s cafeteria. Some of the teachers, apparently learning about this at the last minute like most everyone else, and confused as to the nature of the proceedings, insisted that their students at least go to the cafeteria even if they did not mean to cooperate with the military. Once they were there, the kids were informed that anyone who showed up in the cafeteria would be made to take the test.

Source: Antiwar.com

Yes. Once at the cafeteria, they HAD to take the test. And the soldiers told the students that if they destroyed the tests, then they would throw out the tests also of those students who had wanted to take it. The coercion worked.

But that is a separate incident from what happened with my friend’s daughter.

What happened to my friend’s daughter? After completing the test, she was given a form to sign. She refused to sign the form. She was then later visited by a uniformed recruiter who intimidated her into signing the form. And she had no idea what was even on the form she was being bullied into signing. Perhaps it was something like this?

Principals in (district) shall protect students’ privacy by implementing “ASVAB Option 8” (keeping the test results from recruiters), informing the military before the test is given. If a school chooses this option, students who want their scores to go to the military can still permit them to go to recruiters on an individual basis. (The military provides a special permission form for such requests.) However, it doesn’t work the other way around. If a school chooses to release information to recruiters, this information will be handed over for all students, removing choice from some students.

Source: Washington Truth in Recruiting

Her daughter has been getting recruitment calls since then.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Well, she signed the form. Why didn’t she read it first?”

My friend’s daughter isn’t dumb. Nor is she not used to taking a stand. This same girl, when she was in middle school, following 9/11, the school began holding patriotic rallies on designated days. The students were informed that if they wore red, white and blue then they would receive extra grade points. She refused to wear the colors and thus did not receive the extra grade points. She also refused to sign a patriotic petition posted by a teacher.

I look on it as her being in an authoritarian double bind. It sounds like she wasn’t made aware of her rights in this situation. She was at school. When she refused to sign the form, the military pursued her. In uniform, they intimidated her into signing.

How many students have been thus intimidated not only into releasing their information, but eventually joining the military?

Do Army/Navy/Marine recruiters get bonuses for each person they get to enlist? I don’t know. But the National Guard does.

The Army National Guard, which has suffered a severe three-year recruiting slump, has begun to reel in soldiers in record numbers, aided in part by a new initiative that pays Guard members $2,000 for each person they enlist.

Source: Washington Post

An enlightening read on the heavy emphasis being placed on reaping high school kids and how to do it is found in the military’s School Recruiting Program Handbook at nodraftnoway.org. One of the more interesting portions is section 2-4 on using student influences.

Some influential students such as the student president or the captain of the football team may not enlist, however, they can and will provide you with referrals who will enlist.

A number of helpful hints on gaining the co-operation of administrators and teachers and winning the confidence of students.

As professionalism is stressed, I guess the high school and college recruiters don’t consider coercive and intimidating tactics to be outside of bounds of creating fodder for Gold Star Family license plates…all in the interest of our war against terrorism and Operation Enduring Freedom.

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".


  1. I just started to post something, and had written a piece I was about to post, and suddenly it disappeared and I lost the whole thing.

    So, I’ll be brief rather than try to re-write the whole thing. I think this is a great article you wrote. I do appreciate it. And I’m thoroughly disgusted that No Child Left Behind would be allowing this government administration to use our public schools as a place to harvest future military recruits. Is that what it means to leave “no child left behind”?

  2. With two daughters graduating from high school in the past 3 years, I still field calls from recruiters on a regular basis. Lately they seem more and more stressed.

    Reently I dealt blackjack to a guy who had retired after 25 years of service, a Marine, if I remember right. He had served all over the world, including a tour in Iraq. After 30 months of retirement he got a letter saying that he was reactivated, despite his back injury, and had to report for duty again. He was protesting and appealing, but meanwhile they had a desk job for him. Guess what job they gave him?

    That’s right. They made him a recruiter. The poor guy was pissed as hell, had nothing good to say, and he was supposed to convince kids to join up.

    I asked him what on earth someone with his background would tell potential recruits.

    “I tell them they’re gonna get shot at. I say ‘Kid, you ever been shot at?'”

  3. Nina, thanks. And sorry you lost your post. I always copy my posts before saving or publishing in WordPress, just in case the database is down, so I won’t lose what I’ve written. Had it happen too many times.

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