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What is it about war that is attractive to the young?

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by jasontc, Dec 1, 2008.

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  1. jasontc

    jasontc recruit

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    I am currently a Junior at Illinois State University. The close of this semester brings with it the close of what has been an interesting class: Texts and Contexts: Cultures of War. It was focused on the topic of "The American Soldier."

    For this class we read:
    A Rumor of War
    Jarhead
    Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier

    There was a commonality in each of those three books that I both noticed and have identified within myself. This is that each of the authors, while young and prior to their service, possessed a strong desire to enter into the Military and serve their country. Of course, they didn't word it that way but rather more along the lines of, "I want to go on an adventure and kill America's enemies."

    I said that I also identified this desire in myself. I would not say I have a desire to "kill America's enemies" so much as I just feel as though I should serve. When I read books such as Jarhead and A Rumor of War in which the authors describe the misery and boredom of waiting, the torture that was training, etc; these accounts and descriptions are the very thing that strengthen my desire to join.

    Heroic movies and promises of glory are not really what gets me.

    So this brings me to the question posed in the Title of this thread. Being a "young man," I have been told countless times by those older than I that they "were young once too and had the same feelings I am having." So I want to know what attracts young men to war.
     
  2. Firefoxy

    Firefoxy Dishonorably Discharged

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    Hi Jasontc,What attacts young men and women,i don't know.
    But for me it's the fancination of the past.
    Manly european past history of ww2.

    Warm cheers
     
  3. fsbof

    fsbof Member

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    Whatever that factor is - adventure, excitement, duty, purpose, or a host of others - it and youth's feelings of immortality ("ten-foot tall, bulletproof, and invisible" as the song goes) combine in such a way that a young person is able to minimize the sense of personal risk associated with going to war ("it always happens to the other guy").
     
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  4. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I think the reasons are as varied as the human race. I wanted to join because I felt I owed it to the men who went before me to protect what they had earned.
     
  5. acker

    acker Member

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    Why were Hitler's most diehard supporters little boys? Why are child soldiers so fanatical?

    The young are easily impressed upon. "Heroism", battle, nationalism...all of these things are glorified in pretty much every country out there.



    And they don't know enough to figure out the true horrors of war, or separate them from "normal life".
     
  6. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    Good question, why?

    [​IMG]

    "15-yr-old German Luftwaffe anti-aircraft crew member crying after being taken prisoner by American forces during Spring of 1945 WWII action."​
     
  7. Firefoxy

    Firefoxy Dishonorably Discharged

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    Well,ARE you talking about todays generation of boys? I take it as a yes!
    It's kind of like high school,most young boys wanted to be in the popular, goodlooking,cool tough group right? And what does the nazi's and there unifrom protray?- Popular, goodlooking,cool tough group and thats why the nazi's are still popular with the young boys of today.
     
  8. texson66

    texson66 Ace

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    In a recent WWII magazine, there is an excerpt from a book on the Hitler Youth about the war through the eyes of a 7 yo(1939-45). Clearly, it is much easier to seduce the kids into this sort of thing with all the uniforms, parades,martial music, and paramilitary training. But deep down I think Fsbof said it best:

    Of course, after combat starts, one comes to realize "hey, it might happen to me." This quickly evolves into "Damn! When will it happen to me?"
     
  9. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    It's fine shooting up people in a game, problem is when the game shoots back at you and it never was a game after all.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Lots of reasons I suppose, too many for even this forum. Some can be identified as being maybe simply silly or wrong. Some due to upbringing, some the state, the media a sense of patriotism right or wrong, some the ideal of its the right thing to do when seeing injustices in the world or perceived unjustices, depends on the information gleaned and where from I suppose. Others drift into service, I think there has to be a line drawn between why we want or young men and gals want to go to war and why young men and gals join the services, the reasons are not necessarilly the same but in the end the difference is not counted when war comes along.
    Some for educational reasons, some with the thought of bettering their lives, social background, financial background, adventure can play a big part, travel even, even the thought of one day getting that skiing trip on the posters...Im still waiting for my skiing trip...never did get it.

    But whether we agree with it or not...and other threads discect rightly the thoughts and comments on why you would serve here or there, in that battle or this one, and we can throw our arms up at some of the responses, and some try gallantly to at least give folk an insight into why maybe they should give it a lot more thught...and even as to who where the elite regiments etc and why you as a none national would want to join the enemy??? Good stuff...and some very good questions raised hopefully to help guide folk before they do in facat join up with wrong ideas.

    But at end of day, it is a good thing that we do indeed have folk today of the young generation wanting to join our respective national forces, even the elite, as long as its your own elite.....it has always been the way and they are necessary to our nations defences.

    Romantacism plays its ugly part, war movies, the media in general and mums and dads too play their part. The recruiter has an easy job at conflicts start, most are eager and raring to go, history shows us that in all nations. Its only later that some with the romamtacism need to be questioned.

    After the Falkands war, there was a big parade of uniformed vetrans thru the city of London. Lunch in Mansion house. Crowds on the streets, Maggie Thatcher and Mayor and assorted great and good, giving toasts...The wounded were in same unheated barrack blocks in Chessington with me, watching it on tv...Not one had been invited to attend, not even the lunch. They were neatly hidden away. They came out much later when the govt of the day realised the public wanted them to be seen, wanted to meet them. But that day in Chessington, a lot of tv's were thrown out of windows and a lot of guys dissapeared under sheets and long walks.

    But that doesnt belaythe fact there will always be those wanting to join up, thats good,When your actually already in you do as your told, you just do its that simple and you probably in the main at first look forward to your day of adrenalin...
    Those Joining though just because they want to fight, kill, and do all this becuase I AM AN AMERICAN or I AM A BRIT or Eine Volk Eine Fueureh need to reassess urgently. They wont. they never do, but these forums and some of the guys fighting a losing battle to at least enlighten our youngsters are doing well on that score.
     
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  11. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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  12. Kruska

    Kruska Member

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    It is not just about being (10 foot tall, bulletproof and invincible). Also there is a huge difference between those who join the Army voluntarily during peacetimes, as a drafty or being pressed into service such as those children soldiers in today’s Africa or those HJ kids.

    The same goes for the career choice, be it as a Regular, NCO or Officer in a combat, support, technical or other function and service branch.

    As for guys such as jasontc, it could be anything from liking uniforms to a hero’s dreams or just simply getting a job.

    Some people who later write books or tell their stories in pubs also tend to “forget” or “dismiss” their true original intensions in regards to having signed up.

    During an NCO Air force course in the GAF, 59 of those soldiers were asked to reveal their initial intensions.
    34 said, it was a better pay then in my previous civil live
    10 said, I didn’t have a job – so why not the army
    7 said, the army offers paid for education for a better future civil live
    3 said, I just love the army, it’s equipment, the topic as such
    2 said, it is a challenge to lead men and to take responsibility as a young person
    3 said, 10 foot tall……..

    12 soldiers did not pass the NCO course – 10 were from the group of 34, 2 from the group of 10.

    During an Officer Cadet Army course in the GAF, 21 of those soldiers were asked to reveal their initial intensions.
    8 said, the army offers paid for education for a better future civil live
    6 said, it is a challenge to lead men and to take responsibility as a young person
    4 said, I just love the army, it’s equipment, the topic as such
    2 said, 10 foot tall……..
    1 said, I didn’t have a job – so why not the army

    This mirrors most of the other Western Armies I have encountered so far – which shows that it is not at all about these 10 foot…… guys or war crazy fellows. BTW the two 10 foot… guys didn’t even make it through part one. (which is the physical and psychological test).

    Regards
    Kruska
     
  13. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    BTW the two 10 foot… guys didn’t even make it through part one. (which is the physical and psychological test). [/SIZE][/FONT]

    Difficult to camoflauge them, I can see the problem. Bill, just poke yer ead over that hedge see if anyones about....

    Best to be under 5 foot 2 when things start to happen.
     
  14. jasontc

    jasontc recruit

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    So what do you tell a guy who says, "I don't know what it is, but something about the Marines has always held my attention. I've told myself that I'm just young and wreckless and these feelings and desires will pass, but five years later I still feel that pull. Part of me wants to join up, but I have other desires as well...conflicting desires. How do I decide what to do?"
     
  15. Army Man

    Army Man Member

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    Military service was a rite of passage into adulthood for males in my family. All of the males in my family, as well as my youngest (older) sister and grandmother served in some branch of service. As a boy, it seemed natural that I too would enlist when I was finished with school. The only question was, which branch?

    To be truthful, I was never - ever forced into it. My family was very supportive of me going my own way, whether it was Uni or the job market or the military.

    But for me, deep down inside, years of "playing soldier", watching movies and TV, and reading lots of Sgt. Rock had me convinced that the military was where I wanted to be by the 9th grade. I wanted to wear that uniform. I wanted to be a bad-ass. I wanted to serve my country, get valuable experiences that not everyone gets to have.

    April '94 in Tuzla, Bosnia changed every single idea that I'd had about combat. When you're under heavy fire and you see the genuine "tough guys" around you throwing up and crapping themselves, all that Action Force (or G.I. Joe to you Yanks) bravado goes right out the window.

    To answer your question, Jason, I don't know that young men - at least today - are attracted to war. If someone is attracted to war and all that it entails is either a sign of immaturity or mental instability.

    Being attracted to looking sharp in a dress uniform, being more fit and disciplined than you could ever be in a sedentary civilian life, that feeling of pride in yourself and the comradeship you have with your fellow troops... well, that's almost natural.

    It's a basic human instinct to want to belong to something. It's as much an essential part of our existence as breathing.

    What do I say to you? It's hard, my friend. If you want to serve, the military isn't the only way to do so. It is, however, one of the best ways to do it (I feel). As long as you never romanticize what the essential purpose of the military is - especially in today's day and age - you should do what you feel is best.
     
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  16. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Well, I certainly would not attempt to dissuade you either. Thats not what I am saying.
    But since you ask for advice, Im sure youll get lots on here.

    First of all being Brit, I dont know what a junior at high school range is? I hazard a guess at about 14-16?

    So any advice I give is based on that assumption.
    I joined at 16 and a half, so cannot critisize anyone. I had some of the best times of my life in forces, I met some of the best folk I could ever wish to meet, I learned that all folk are different but basically the same.
    The forces rid me of most of my predjudices and gave me an education of a different sort that only being forced with others of different backgrounds and beliefs can give you.

    There were great times, good times, silly times, bad times and downright dangerous times.
    We tend to mostly remember the good times and not dwell on the bad times.
    Discipline, can you take it? You will need to.. Some think they can and find out too late the romantic notion of someone in your face calling you and your family all the names of the sun, and throwing all your kit is a romantic thing. It isn't. Being treated like dirt for your basic, and in some cases depending on the role you have chosen or have chosen for you it can last for your whole career span. Its not romantic after a while, the fun wears off when your feeling picked on for no reason. If you cant take that, dont even consider a career in forces.
    First night....I couldnt understand why everyone, I didnt, I was prepared more, but everyone was crying in bed...Homesick and fearful on first night...Not just 16 year olds, as we were thrown in with older guys too. If you tend to family life and homesickness. Then the first few weeks will be hell.
    The physical part is good, if you can do it and put up with it, it can be an adventure in itself and great when finished with for a time.

    I wont go into warfare or whatever, just to say, you will be on beck and call for any emergency, or other situation that arises, forget your tnanksgiving if there is a forest fire in New Jersey..do they have forests in New Jersey? It is ok first few times, but then you start to ask, is it just us, just me why me...you get over it, we moan a lot, and if you dont have a sense of humour then you should definately not consider joining.

    I guess though all service folk go thru that no matter what nation or what service. Thats mostly same for all guys and gals.

    The jist of it though, is if you have these feeling of wishing to join up. Be prepared. Prepare yourself for why, not what you are doing what you wish.

    Before you do join, ask yourself some basic questions.

    Why do I want to join up?

    In fact it would be of interest to me if you would answer that question firstly, you dont have to, and I for one wont blow you out of the water with your response.

    But at this time I see nothing but danger and although I hope not, injury for quite a few of our youngsters. That is no reason for NOT joining up. That never stopped youth before and never will.
    But if you know that danger now exists, and the very great likleyhood that you will encounter that danger and possible life time injury, I would just be interested in as to why you wish to join at this Particular time?

    Is university not an option for you at this moment?

    My own son is in his first year at Univirstity, I have been to see him a few times, and I tell you now, if I had my time again, I woud be heading for Universtiy and not the forces especially not at this time. But that is from a purely selfish point of view.

    Our countries need young guys and gals like yourself to serve...Its a good choice of career...

    It is not though some escape from reality where one should enlist to be either like the other guys etc....Id just ask you to look into how many of your politicians have serving sons in the sort of unit you are considereing? How many as a percentage of their numbers to a percentage of the public as a whole.

    Dont ever ever, be persuaded by politicians, their spouting and rabble rousing should never be a reason for anyone wanting to join and fight.

    If you have your own reasons then that is a different matter and the best of British luck to you.

    Do you have any relatives who serve or who have served? If so speak to them.
    But also ask them where they served....All service is good, but Id rather listen to a ww2 vet on here or a Vietnam vet than someone who served their time stacking blankets in Idaho, although they serve too, I wouldnt want to hear them telling you to get stuck in and get to the front...they didnt. All ex service folk can spin you a line, I can too. But never should over the real important matters.
    I certainly would not take any advice from teachers on the matter either, unless they too have served. If they havent, ignore their telling you what a proud thing it is to serve, what a patriotic thing. If thats the case they should have done so themselves not enjoin you to do so.

    I loved my time, Ive said that, but I wouldnt reccomend you to do so at your age. 18 is soon enough, 21 is better.

    Get some life outside to compare it to before you give up your life for one kind. Have a choice of careers not just head for the one that you think will suit.

    Im glad you want to serve, want to serve your own nation, but do it for the right reasons.

    Boys fight the wars of men....that saying has never been so meaningful today as it has before.
     
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  17. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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    Amazing post mate, excellent advice. I do wanted to join the army, but due to some personal reasons didn't, but have often considered joining again. After reading that post and the things you said I think I could do well, I was told by my DI (Defense Interviewer) who was a captain in the RAA (Royal Australian Air force) that I would make a good soldier, yet I didn't join.

    Anyways, again great post.
     
  18. marc780

    marc780 Member

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    You said it! Wars and armies have always been a magnet for many young men, and until a few decades ago there was no mass media or television to show people what it is really like. So lacking any other information andd being largely ignorant about war except for a few old timer's tales (the ones that survived) it was usually not difficult for any government anywhere to convince or coerce young men to fight.

    This is not to knock soldiers in any way but i find it odd we can delude ourselves about our chances of surviving in a war. Even though we have more real information then ever about what war can do to your body and soul, many people still eagerly join up. Anyone who has been in a real war would probably admit their feelings about it are totally different then before they went, and people who have been in war are the people you'd want to seek out and talk to before you choose your service and MOS.

    Our logical mind knows in a war there is a good chance we can be killed, blinded, or maimed for life yet people still eagerly seek it out. The odds of serving in the infantry and coming through physically whole and alive in the wars of the 20th century were only about 50% (Source: How to Make War, by James Dunnigan). And the weapons of this century are even more lethal than they were in ww2 or even Vietnam. But all this certain knowledge seems to go out the window at the prospect of war, and by the time you know the real truth it is too late, you are probably stuck until the war ends, your tour is over, or you are killed or badly wounded.
    I served in the Air Force but i wanted to serve in the army in Desert Storm, they told me i was too old. They asked me what i wanted and i told them ARMOR...(i figured the odds of survival were better with all that metal around you.) So i never did see what battle is really like. I suppose thats just as well, all things considered.
     
  19. jasontc

    jasontc recruit

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    Hey. Sorry I cut out most of what you said, but I figured people could scroll back up. I guess I didn't specify...I am a junior at the University. This is my third year. I am 21 now. If I join, it will be after I graduate and get my degree.

    Thank you so much for the advice and encouragement though. Thank you for the time you put into answering so thoughtfully. I am still trying to figure out why I want to join. When/If I come up with an answer, I will post it here.
     
  20. jasontc

    jasontc recruit

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    I know that some of the reasons I want to join include but are not limited to:
    -I am very attracted to the physical aspects of the military. I want to train and get in the best shape of my life.
    -I am a very organized person and have heard that the military teaches organization, structure, etc. I want to gain these things.
    -Discipline. I am disciplined according to most people's standards. But I want to be more disciplined.
    -I want to test myself. I want to find out if I can handle it. I realize though that this alone is a poor reason for joining.
    -Leadership. I want the confidence to, when put in charge of a situation or group of people, be able to formlate a plan and execute it and worry about whether it was the right plan after the fact. I don't want to be constantly second guessing myself.

    However, there is the fear of being injured in such a way as to affect me for the rest of my life. There is the personal question, "When the time came, could you kill someone?" Following this is, "How would you handle the reality of having killed someone?"

    I guess I still have approximately 1 1/2 years to figure out whether this is what I really want to do or not. That's why I have come here to seek advice and get input and ideas that I would not have come up with on my own.

    Thanks to all who have put thought into my questions so far.
     

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