Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music ...
Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music Education from Truman State. Now retired, Rich enjoyed reading, writing music and short essays. He is the director of Kirksville Community Chorus.
MCKNOTES OLD SOLDIERS NEVER DIE
There used to be a saying, “Old soldiers never die, they only fade away.” I think it may have even been a song at some point. I’m not even sure what the saying means, but I’m going to don my soldiers cap for a bit.
I’m told by friends who care about me to avoid writing about controversial issues, particularly political ones. I’m kind of stumped this week about what to write next, so I thought I’d write a little about my take on the gun control issue. Someone even told me they couldn’t imagine what I would say that hadn’t already been said. Probably true, but no one is required to read what I write, and this is on my mind.
I will start by telling you that I wasn’t that much of a soldier. I got drafted. I was, however, a grunt in the Vietnam “Conflict.” That means that I carried an M-16 rifle. It means I was shot at. I was also qualified on the M-60 machine gun, 80 mm mortars and 4.2 mortars.
The M-16 is a frightful weapon made for killing people. An M-16 can fire 45 to 60 rounds a minute, (rpm), but not for a sustained length of time. It can sustain firing 12 – 15 rpm. The M-60 machine gun can fire 500 – 650 rpm and has a range of about 1200 yards. The 80 mm mortar has a range of 3-4 miles, and fires artillery.
I can tell you that I came home a decorated soldier with a bronze star for valor and a bronze star for service as well as some other medals that recognize my proficiency as a soldier.
I remember when my platoon went through M-60 machine gun training. It was raining. We were glad it was raining. We were firing at targets fashioned in the shape of human beings. The rain camouflaged tears. Most soldiers don’t really want to kill people, and the realization that it would soon be our mission was truly overwhelming. Even now, as I type this, the memory is almost too much to even think about. It’s raining in my room.
I am not now a hunter. My maternal grandfather and grandmother were both excellent marksmen. They each got a dear every year. I guess you’d call them sportsmen. There are rifles that are appropriate for sportsman. The M-16 is not one of them. If a person needs an assault weapon, he or she is not much of a sportsman, in my opinion.
I understand protecting one’s property. Does that mean that if I have three square miles of land, I can purchase an 80 mm mortar to kill anyone who approaches my property?
From what I have heard and read, nobody wants to take away the rifles and other paraphernalia one needs to exercise their full-fledged sportsmanship. But according to a Reuters poll, 74% of Americans support the restrictions that President Obama set forth the other day. Most of the poll was completed prior to the President’s announcement. In a democracy, it only takes a majority. If our congress is truly representing the wishes of the American people, the decision should be an easy one, but it won’t be. The entire subject is thrown off course by a few people in powerful positions.
I’m not going to ramble on. I hope I’ve made my point simply. I’d like to see our democracy work for us.