Monday, January 03, 2005

John Merrow Replies

Got an email from John Merrow to my 12/14/04 post. Reproduced in its entirety below
Someone sent me your note about my News Hour piece on military recruiting, with your (seemingly rhetorical) questions about what I was doing during the Viet Nam war. For your information, I had a spinal fusion just after graduating from Dartmouth in 1964 and then a major knee operation just after starting teaching in New York, 3 or 4 months later. When I was called for my military physical, the physician who examined me actually OFFERED to declare me 4-F because of the fusion and the miniscus removal, a classification I refused. He then classified me 1-Y. For the record, I have never ridden in a Rolls-Royce, nor was my wife wealthy. That WWI poetry unit included Rupert Brooke, whose romantic view of war balanced the poetry of Wilfred Owen. It's not as easy as it might sound, however, to find writers who glorify war. Recall 'All Quiet on the Western Front' and 'The Red Badge of Courage.' I don't remember the coffin, but I had some very imaginative students, and it could have happened. Some of those students set Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Renascence" to jazz. We also had a 'courtroom trial' of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. As a new teacher, I was assigned students in the so-called 'average' and 'below average' tracks, and I was determined to make English as interesting as possible, without making it any less demanding. Over the years I have heard from former students, one of whom remembers my 'campaign' to replace scatological bathroom graffiti with literary quotations. I don't remember that either, but it also could have happened. For the record, my ONLY quarrel with the military on HS campuses is the way it concentrates on specific campuses (urban, poor) and seemingly avoids others (wealthy, suburban). That was NOT in the piece, if you recall.
John Merrow"
Two points
Since this was your first teaching job, you may have lacked the experience to meet your own expectations. However, if you characterize your students as being in "so-called 'average' and 'below average' tracks" how could they be so "imaginative"?
And if this is your "ONLY quarrel with the military" do you support ROTC at Harvard?
P.S> To expand your repertoire may I suggest a poem (that has been set to music) which goes like this..
"From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli (and Fallujah, Banda Aceh & Sri Lanka - Ed.) ..."
Update 1/3/05 9:05 AM - Since the events discussed here occurred 40 years ago, perhaps a brief summary of a few of the more common deferments is in order.
I-Y Registrant has qualified for military service only in time of war or national emergency. (emphasis added)
I-D Qualified member of reserve component, or student taking military training, including ROTC and accepted aviation cadet applicant.
II-A Occupational deferment which includes apprentice training.
II-C Agricultural deferment.
II-S Student deferment.
III-A Extreme hardship deferment, or registrant with a child or children.
V-A Registrant over the age of liability for military service.
You''ll note how times have changed! I'd draw particular notice to that bit about in "time of war or national emergency". Just exactly what did LBJ think was going on in Vietnam? Guess it didn't matter to ole Lying Bastard Johnson (D-Texas)!


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