Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Sure, We Treat 'Em Like Children, But We Love the Troops!

"The retired New York City Firefighter Flip Mullen tells of an encounter with a 19-year-old soldier named Keith whose only complaint had nothing to do with having lost a leg in Iraq," Michael Daly writes in today's Daily News.

"He said, 'I can't get a drink,'" Mullen recalls.

Keith meant he was considered old enough to go to war but too young to go into a bar or a nightclub. He is among some 5,000 G.I.s who were wounded in Iraq when they were not yet 21. Exactly 550 have been killed before they were of an age to have a legal beer.

The column itself isn't one I'd describe as "strong" or necessarily "worth reading," but the point raised is nonetheless important: How again is it sensible that people as young as 17 can fight and die -- or, as Daly details here, lose limbs -- for their country, but that country treats them as too immature to knock back a couple of cold ones? I'll go ahead and answer that myself. A 21-year-old drinking threshold makes no sense. And politicians who perpetuate it ought to be embarrassed.

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