We are a generation that hasn’t known hardship. We don’t know what war really is. War is something you see in the movies, Oliver Stone or Francis Ford Copula. “The horror, the horror.”
We’re the G.I. Joe generation. And not the Barbie-size “action figures” with kung-fu grip. I’m talking about the 3 3/4 inch army men and the cartoon show of the 1980s. I’m talking about Cobra and shouts of “Go Joe!” and battle scenes where no one ever gets injured and the bad guys jump out of their vehicles before they blow up. When planes go down pilots eject and everyone’s safe at the end of the day. A G.I. Joe battle is the only one with zero casualties.
We’re the generation that watched the Gulf War on TV and realized that it was just like our video games. It was the first war we ever saw, and it was virtually painless, virtually bloodless. It was over before it started.
Vietnam was well before our time. That was another era, another generation’s nightmare and rallying call. The pain and frustration of that war looms over us only as a reminder to not get involved in other people’s disputes.
We are the generation that sees the armed forces as a source of free socks, the military as a way to pay for college. We are the generation that would follow the example set before us and burn draft cards before being forced to fight.
All of that changed last Tuesday. I’ve never heard so many people express interest in enlisting in the military. And it’s interesting to consider who will be fighting this war. The kids brandishing the M-16s and driving the Bradleys grew up playing with G.I. Joes. It’s interesting to note that G.I. Joe was a special force formed to fight the terrorist group, Cobra, a countryless group whose only goal was terror.
Unfortunately, in the G.I. Joe world the Cobras were always distinguishable by a big Cobra symbol on their chest. In the G.I. Joe world no one died in the battles and the good guys always won. In the G.I. Joe world there was no World Trade Center or Pentagon attack.