On July 23rd, I sent a message to Colonel Duffy, commander of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, on behalf of 42 clients of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. Those 42 clients (nearly half of whom happen to be practicing Christians) were frustrated at the propagation of a decades' old lie by Chaplain Kenneth Reyes that there are no atheists in foxholes. Much to our satisfaction, COL Duffy conceded that spreading such a vulgar lie from the bully pulpit of military seniority was in fact unlawful and ordered CH Reyes' article taken down.
Fast forward nearly a month and that article has been restored to the glee of Christian Supremacists like Jerry "my god is bigger than your god" Boykin. One talking point which has become popular among the religious right's bobble heads is the regurgitation of the the phrase "there are no atheists in foxholes" by our former president, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Of course, the words of presidents past or present posses some weight in discourse surrounding our nation's culture, like Dubbya's wonderful admission that he'll "be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office." More to the point, Eisenhower, while certainly an exemplary leader in war, was not wholly above reproach in matters of civil rights:
"President Eisenhower was a fine general and a good, decent man, but if he had fought World War II the way he fought for civil rights, we would all be speaking German now."
Executive Director of the NAACP (1964-1977)
Conservatives would view Ike's performance in the field of domestic progress as exceptional, as he stood behind the myth that there are no atheists in foxholes. To lay the claim that no atheist is capable of enduring the rigors of combat and retaining their personally held philosophical beliefs against all evidence to the contrary is welcomed rhetoric among those circles. After all, if their god is bigger than your god, it must be bigger than no god at all.
A stalwart theocrat would insist that the non-religious in our country do not have freedom from religion. The "traditional values" that they hold near and dear insist that all others must ascribe to some faith or admit to being an un-American godless communist. Oh how the love of Jesus shines bright in his followers.
It seems that those who feel the praise of men who endorse hatred under the guise of a neutral historical presentation are unwilling or unable to comprehend exactly why the article published by CH Reyes is unacceptable in a pluralistic society. After giving clear argumentation as to why such speech is not protected, we at MRFF have come to understand that we must crawl into the dens of intellectual dwarfs and scrape the writing off their walls in order to form a metaphorical argument than can be lost on none. And so, with no further ado, here you have it! A clear mockery of military bearing which could only be accepted when justified by faith. Enjoy
"Bring Me Men": Decorated General served honorably in World War II.
*The following is intended as a satirical reflection of CH Kenneth Reyes' article titled "'No atheists in foxholes': Chaplains gave all in World War II."*
Many people familiar with the United States Air Force Academy have heard the phrase, "Bring me men."
Where did this come from?
This phrase originated with librarian and poet Sam Walter Foss, who penned the famous words in his poem "The Coming American" on July 4, 1894.
In 1964 it was given its prominent position among USAFA traditions by being affixed to the archway which all cadets must march through before entering Stillman Parade Field. "Bring me men" was introduced under the leadership of then Commandant of Cadets General Robert W. Strong Jr. with the intent of inspiring the cadet Wing to adhere to the ideological principles of the Academy.
Late in the summer of 1976, the first women to attend USAFA passed under the looming, 2-feet-tall, ten letter slogan to begin their pursuit of graduation from this esteemed academy. The alarm and cognitive dissonance of those who thought women might serve as equals to men resulted in decades of harassment, marginalization, and physical abuse of those who failed to meet the criteria of service established by General Strong's directive to "Bring [him] men."
The phrase, "Bring me men" was coined in peace, but favored by a man who knew war.
General Strong faced the enemies of the United States in combat as the commander of the 62nd Bombardment Group and later as commander of the 39th Bombardment Group during WWII. As commander of the 39th the men under him dropped bombs over Japan for a cumulative 200 hours. His men faced the threat of Japanese Zeroes and anti-aircraft weapons every time they departed from their base on Guam.
Throughout the duration of his command no woman served under him, nor did he ask for their service.
Life-and-death experiences prompt a reality check.
Even the strongest of beliefs can change, and, I may add, can go both ways - people can be drawn to or away from "patriarchy."
As history would tell, General Strong held steadfast with his affinity for a male-dominated culture when he emblazoned the entrance to Stillman Parade Field with his solicitation for men to serve him in combat.
The real question is, "Is it important to believe in gender equality or is it more important to ask, 'What is your stance on misogyny?'"
General Strong never affirmed or expressed whether his endorsement of a male dominated military was rooted in misogyny or not, but for twenty-seven years every female who entered the United States Air Force Academy was sure to be reminded that through those gates existed a culture in which they were not wholly welcome. Regardless, his decorated career in service to this nation as an exemplary officer of esteemed character shows us that he truly represented the Air Force values as they ought to be.
What is your perspective on allowing women in the military?
Are they people you can count on in times of plenty or loss; peace or chaos; joy or sorrow; success or failure?
What is a woman in uniform to you?