News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Sending youths off to war no easy task

One might think of being a JROTC instructor at the high-school level as a cushy job. It might be easy peace-time work, but now that the war in Iraq continues to kill and maim American soldiers, retired Master Sgt. Gordon Horton at Brewer High School doesn't always sleep well at night.

He's worried about the young people who volunteered to come through his ROTC program and are now at war or could be going to battle.

"I worry that parents are going to blame me if their sons or daughters get injured, because they think I influenced them toward joining the military," he said in a recent interview.

He said he never pushes teenagers toward military careers.

Mr. Horton spent 20 years in the military and now his son Eric is in the war in Baghdad, along with at least 39 other Brewer JROTC graduates who are now on active duty, some in the war arena.

Sending teenagers who you watch mature into adults off to war must be sobering. Yet JROTC is a wonderful program that teaches youngsters discipline and pride and helps many of them decide on career paths.

Sgt. Horton, of course, isn't sending his charges off to war. The president does that.

Perhaps it would be a good thing if those who rush into war had Sgt. Horton's intimate knowledge of the soldiers. If they did, there is little doubt that the political warriors wouldn't be so quick to give up on diplomacy.

Looking the parents of those soldiers in the eye and knowing you did your best to help prepare them for Iraq should take some of the burden off the JROTC instructor.

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