portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary united states

government | human & civil rights | imperialism & war

Be All You Can Be and Other Great American Quotes

Why do the armed forces advertise? Are they selling a product?
Be All You Can Be and Other Great American Quotes

Aol Time Warner showed a photo of a young American holding a rifle, fear of attack this summer the words read. The person holding the rifle was a woman, she is someone's child. Many questions went through my head, streaming, gleaming and pounding. Does the soldier believe in the cause? Or is the soldier a victim of great advertising prior to the war? You can be all you can be, someone was paid a handsome fee to write that slogan.

The few the proud! Get an edge on life! It's not just a job. It's an adventure! Were looking for a few good men! Be part of the action, aim high! You and the Navy full speed ahead, all catchy slogans but where are the warning labels? You might get shot or even maimed. The government makes cigarette companies place warning label on each and every pack. Bar's have a warning about drinking while pregnant. When you buy a blender it has a warning label too. Cigarette and liquor companies are not allowed to advertise on TV. Beer commercials can't show someone sipping beer.

Remember those great commercials of men repelling, fighter planes zooming off a carrier. We all wanted to do that. It reminds us of when we were children and played army in the safety of our parks. The difference is there was no real enemy, no real bullets flying past our fragile heads. The armed forces ads are no different then Wheaties telling us it's the breakfast of champions. How can it be the breakfast of champions when anybody can eat them? Below are a few of the top ad campaigns of the century.

Volkswagen, "Think Small",
Coca-Cola, "The pause that refreshes",
Marlboro, the Marlboro Man,
Nike, "Just do it",
McDonald's, "You deserve a break today",
DeBeers, "A diamond is forever",
Absolut Vodka, The Absolut Bottle
Miller Lite beer, "Tastes great, less filling",

Ranking number eighteen in the top one hundred of the century is U.S. Army, "Be all that you can be", N.W. Ayer & Son, 1981. If I understand the goal of advertising correctly it would be to sell a product. Let's assume some unsuspecting eighteen year old buys the product and joins the service. What happens if he does not become all he can be? What if he loses a leg in battle and is now handicapped. Is he allowed to sue the army for false advertising? That young man will never be all he can be. Then he will be discharged out of the few and the proud. The government assisted in all those law suits against the tobacco companies. Which ironically a few of them made the list of the century's top one hundred

3) Marlboro, The Marlboro Man, Leo Burnett Co., 1955
44) Winston cigarettes, "Winston tastes good--like a cigarette should" 1954
46) Camel cigarettes, "I'd walk a mile for a Camel", N. W. Ayer & Son, 1921
60) Lucky Strike cigarettes, "Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet", Lord & Thomas, 1920s

Most citizens have an opinion of the war Iraq. Some believe it's for democracy, some believe it's for oil. Some believe its imperialism. At this point is really doesn't matter why, we are there. The youth of this country are dying and the number has climbed to over 600 after the president told us the war was over.

Santa Monica beach had over 600 crosses on the beach representing the Americans that have died for the cause. As I looked to all the crosses I thought to myself it doesn't matter why were in Iraq. What matters is the plain fact that people are dying. A small sign read that the beach would be filled if they placed a cross for every Iraqi that died. Are the Iraqi's really our enemies? How many Iraqi's were flying on September Eleventh?

Which reason are we in Iraq? Is it weapons of mass destruction? Or are we freeing the Iraqi people from Saddam? Why didn't we free the Iraqi's from the UN embargo? That embargo did not allow proper medicine in the country which caused the largest homicide of children under the age of five.

To some I probably sound like a commie pinko, in reality I am a capitalist. A lot of American companies will profit big time in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why not offer some of the profits to those who fought and secured the countries for the large corporations. Give a couple of shares of Halliburton presently trading around $29.00 a share. Wouldn't it be a fine gesture of all those American companies to line the pockets of the service men and woman? Not simply the share holders.

When democracy catches on in Iraq and Afghanistan they can get to know the other side of democracy. They will know that a little dab will do you and this bud's for you. Nike will offer a new brand of Middle Eastern sandals for those that just want to do it. Families will have the urge to see Iraq in their new Chevrolet. In the distant crowd we will hear Ahmed yell 'Who's that behind those Foster Grants?" It's important we let them know that they don't have to be Jewish to enjoy Levys rye bread. Last but not least George Bush can replace Joe Isuzu and tell them freedom is not cheap.

Frank M. Ahearn

homepage: homepage: http://www.frankmahearn.com