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May 31, 2007

Kids Got Guns: Selling War Young in NYC

Posted in: NYC,War

I’ve always been afraid of guns. Something about the ability to take a life in an instant. But seeing a gun on a street cop is pretty different from being surrounded by them. That’s what happened to me this weekend.

Family was in town and Fleet Week is sold as a family event. Navy ships pull into Manhattan’s west side and civilians board them for a tour of the latest in US military might — from VR simulations to machine guns to choppers and tanks. Heck, they even had an Osprey.

As much as I dislike weapons, I probably could have brushed it all off if it weren’t for the kids. When I saw a 5-year-old ogling bombs as we boarded, I got annoyed. When we got to the deck and whole families were taking turns smiling alongside a Huey-mounted minigun, my breakfast started coming up. When we got into the belly of the ship and I was surrounded by kids younger than 10 scurrying up and down on tanks and trucks, putting on helmets, and manning high caliber guns (all while parents cheered) I decided to cash out.

Nothing like a real war to take the fun out of a little military fantasy. Nothing like single digit kids acting out military fantasies on real military gear to make you full-on disgusted with the thinly veiled recruiting exercise that is Fleet Week. Get ’em young!

Thankfully, Iraq Veterans Against the War staged a counter-event that brought the reality of war to the city in more honest fashion. And Joe shot a beautiful photo of it, too. Wish I’d been there instead. But, then, real war ain’t family fun.

We last talked about Fleet Week in Jet Fumes and Frosted Flakes.

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