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National Guard Showing Off Artilery Guns In Waterfront Park

The Oregon National Guard are out in full-force today displaying artillery guns in Tom McCall Waterfront Park--with Guardsman shamelessly trying to promote service in the armed forces to pedestrians on the esplanade, including children and adolescents.
Biking down the west bank esplanade at about 6:30 this evening, I was shocked to see several artillery guns sitting on the lawn of waterfront park aiming towards the east bank of the Willamette as if an attack was eminent. I recognized immediately that the guns (and the several camouflaged Humvees on display), were simply a shameless ploy by the National Guard to show-off what they treat as toys for grown-ups, which are actually highly-advanced weaponry with two purposes: to destroy and to take human life.

The site of children (some appearing to be as young as four or five) climbing on these killing machines, and young men and girls being instructed in their use (lured in by our society's glorification of armed service and machines that create large explosions, as well as camouflaged neck badges and foamed toy footballs with the US Army logo being handed out) left me in aghast. My horror quickly turned to anger at not only the dozen-or-so guardsman and women perpetrating the crime, but also the citizens in the park who seemed to be unaffected by this sickening and insensitive display of American military force and attempted recruitment of the most easily-impressionable in our society.

Shocked and angered by the lack of response, and even support given, by the public in the park, at one point I yelled out, "does this make anyone else extremely uncomfortable?!" "These things are for killing people!", I shouted in vain, soliciting an aggressive rebuttal from one of the guardsman. But no one responded or even acknowledged my presence.

Have we become so immune to our military society and imperial power that it doesn't illicit a response even when it's flaunted in our faces? Are we not all complicit in the crimes committed in our names by our country's armed forces (including the preying-on of youth to fill the spots of soldiers coming home in body bags), and the death and destruction it produces, if we allow it to go unchallenged--especially in our public spaces?

How YOU can help.... Talk to people about the issues 03.Sep.2010 14:19

Recruiter Watch PDX

September is the month for youth in public high schools to "opt-out."

WHAT IS OPT-OUT? Under the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, schools receiving federal funds MUST release students' personal information to military recruiters if they are to continue to receive federal funds.

OPT-OUT FACTS:
* Students must opt-out EVERY YEAR.
* Traditionally, the deadline for opting-out for the year is October 1.
* Students do NOT require parental or guardian consent to opt-out.
* EVERY high school students' personal information is being released to military recruiters -- not just that of juniors and seniors!
* Girls are NOT exempt from this provision.

HOW CAN STUDENTS OPT-OUT?
* At registration -- before the beginning of the school year. There is usually a checkbox on the registration form that allows for opting-out.
* By going directly to their school main office and amending their registration form if they have not checked the box to opt-out. (If they don't remember whether they opted-out or not, students can go to the main office to verify the information on their form.)
* By submitting an opt-out form (either that supplied by Recruiter Watch volunteers or by download at www.leavemychildalone.org/optout) to their school's main office.

ON-LINE RESOURCES ON OPT-OUT:

www.leavemychildalone.org (information on opt-out and No Child Left Behind Act)

 http://quakerhouse.org/documents/toparents.html (Sgt. Abe the Honest Recruiter speaks to parents)

The September, 2009 article in MOTHER JONES by David Goodman, entitled, "A Few Good Kids?," deals with the heavy military recruitment of at-risk (low-income and/or minority and/or less academic youth) and the insidious invasion of student privacy under No Child Left Behind and the JAMRS (consumer) database maintained by the Pentagon.
See www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/09/few-good-kids

ALTERNATIVES TO MILITARY ENLISTMENT:

The American Friends Service Committee has generously provided an on-line version of its very popular IT'S MY LIFE: A GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVES AFTER HIGH SCHOOL as a FREE computer download
See tools.afsc.org/itsmylife

and

www.centeronconscience.org/alternatives
(Center on Conscience and War provides a state-by-state listing of alternatives to military enlistment.)

For more information and assistance on truth-in-recruiting issues:
Recruiter Watch PDX at  rwpdxcoalition@gmail.com
Military & Draft Counseling Project - War Resisters League (503) 238-0605