Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

The Boomer’s Guide to Wartime Etiquette



I’m feeling a little bit lost and confused these days. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out you feel the same way. It’s not the early and hard snow storm that greeted me this morning in my Cariboo hideaway, although I’m beginning to think I should have bought a snowblower instead of a lawn mower yesterday. No, it’s the war thing.

Being a member of Da Boomers, the single largest demographic bulge the world has ever known, I’ve never met a war I couldn’t protest. Korea, though officially a police action, was in full bloom when I arrived on the scene and frankly, like most people, I still don’t have a clue what we were doing there other than testing newly-developed jet fighter airplanes and stopping the godless commies before they toppled all the dominoes in that part of the world. Doesn’t matter though; all I was up to protesting was soggy diapers and hunger.

Vietnam on the other hand, was a great war to protest. There were the obvious reasons – fear and cowardice – but here was a war, actually another police action, so clearly bereft of any moral righteousness that it made people ashamed to be what they’d been brought up to feel proud of being: American.

Like all wars, great songs were written about Vietnam. Joe McDonald’s I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag and John Prine’s Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore captured the mood of the time and at least one of them is getting some current airplay on college stations around the country.

The little wars after Vietnam, Grenada where we fought for the right of young Americans with low SAT scores to study and become second rate doctors, Nicaragua where we did or didn’t do anything depending on whom you ask, and the others were either so low-key or over so quickly they didn’t even warrant a song or social protocol.

The Gulf War was just bad television and whether you thought it was a just war or just another war probably depended on whether you drove an SUV or not. Whatever your point of view though, it came to such a premature ending you had to believe George Bush Senior simply lost his train of thought or suddenly realized it wasn’t going to be enough to get him re-elected and lost interest.

But now we’re fighting the war against terrorism and it’s a whole new ballgame. This is a war to rally around, a war to be proud of. Sure, the crackpot pacifists are protesting it but they’re just wimps and cowards that’d let some crazy bastard who thinks Allah speaks to him directly take their ice cream cone away and kill their dogs for good measure. Roll over, Beethoven.