Army recruiting Kindergarteners?

SUBHEAD: Parent questions army presence on Kauai Elementary School Campus.  

How Old is ‘Old Enough?’  
By Jon Letman on 10 November, 2009, in The Garden Island

Image above: "Kindersoldaten" rather than "Kindergarten" for these youngsters. From

 How old is old enough for military recruiters to approach students? High school? Junior High? How about ten weeks into kindergarten? Last week at dinner my 5-year-old son announced blithely, “soldiers came to school today.” He then added, “They only kill bad people. They don’t kill good people.”

 My wife and I looked at each other incredulously. He repeated himself and then I remembered — it was “Career Day” at school. He had mentioned a bus driver too, but it was the soldier who stuck out in his mind.

When my wife asked if the soldier was cool, he nodded “yes.” The soldier had given my son a gift — a six-inch plastic ruler with big bold red letters reading ARMY NATIONAL GUARD next to a waving American flag and below that

So, now we know the answer to the above question. Kindergarteners still learning their ABCs are targets for early conditioning by the U.S. military in Hawai‘i’s schools.

Never mind our schools have just cut almost 10 percent of classroom time, bringing Hawaii’s instructional days to dead last in the nation. Furloughs or not, time was found for the National Guard to give a pitch (and a gift) to wide-eyed 5-year-olds.

 Fortunately (for the military), the economic collapse has been a boon for military recruiters as education and job-hungry young people flock to a place they know will offer what many other employers cannot — a job with benefits.

And with Department of Defense projections indicating that the baseline Pentagon budget will grow over the next decade by $133.1 billion, or 25 percent (even before war funding), it appears likely there will be plenty need for more soldiers in 2022 when my son and his classmates turn 18.

After raising my concerns about military personnel pitching to my 5-year-old on career day to the school’s principal, I was told the soldiers (who were dressed in uniform) were there to focus on “all the good things they do.”

To be sure, in times of natural disaster, the National Guard can do a tremendous amount of good. But in what must certainly have been a first encounter for my son and his classmates, the take away message was “they kill people. But only the bad ones.”

Whether you find this episode utterly disturbing or perfectly normal, each of us needs to ask ourselves, in an era when our government spends trillions of dollars supporting war yet can’t even fund our schools at a minimum national standard, what kind of society and future are we building for our children?

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Defense Department Sues to Recruit Kids 6/14/09 
Island Breath: Ban Recruiting of Under 18 Years Old 2/7/08


1 comment :

Linda Pascatore said...

Great letter, Jon!

I had a similar experience at a Kauai elementary school. The Junior ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) came from the local high school to the grade school to present an assembly honoring the Veterans around Memorial Day. They came dressed in uniform, with very real looking wooden drill rifles. They posed and twirled these rifles around as they performed a drill.

Now, all schools in Hawaii have a No Tolerance Policy for guns on campus. Children are not allowed to bring a squirt gun to school. On the playground if they pose their little fingers as if pointing an imaginary gun, they are scolded: "No guns at school--not even pretend".

I asked the principal how she justified allowing these high school role models to parade their drill guns on campus. She did not have an answer for me.

Post a Comment