A LAST LAMENT FROM JOHNNY CASH Shortly before his death, Johnny Cash gave his last interview to Rolling Stone magazine. Although he was nearly blind and confined to a wheelchair, Johnny was mentally sharp and still knew how to convey his thoughts with bare-boned honesty. He was particularly outspoken about the impending war with Iraq. “I fear for the future for my grandchildren,” he said. “I fear what’s coming down on them. How they’re going to handle all the hell that this country is going through if it goes to war. And it’s going to be hell - it’s going to be terrible what we’re going to face if we go to war.” As an ordinary grandfather, sharing his concerns, Johnny Cash probably had no idea of the profoundness of his words. The hell he was so worried about has already visited thousands of families across the nation. It came to Memphis last week. Sergeant Morgan Kennon’s death in Iraq brought sorrow, sadness, and yes, hell to our city. For those who knew him, it was a private, personal hell. The rest of the community shared in the hell as we watched his funeral on television and listened to the gut wrenching sobs of his beautifully dressed mother. For parents of soldiers in Iraq, the anxiety of possibly facing the Kennon family’s brutal experience is overwhelming. However, as a parent of a child old enough to serve, but who is not in the military, I have a lot of anxiety, as well. That is because the Bush administration has quietly begun a public campaign to bring the draft boards back to life. An announcement on an obscure federal Web site urges citizens to “Serve Your Community and the Nation.” It goes on to say, “If a military draft becomes necessary, approximately 2,000 Local and Appeal Boards throughout America would decide which young men...receive deferments, postponements or exemptions from military service.” For those who were of age to fight in the Vietnam War, it is an ominous flashback of a message. It brings back a memory of being forced to face hell. Not since the early days of the Reagan administration in 1981 has the Defense Department made a push to fill over ten thousand draft board positions and eleven thousand appeals board slots. So why is the Bush administration working to possibly oil up the draft machine? In Iraq, regularly relentless bombings demonstrate things are going awry. Daily news accounts detail how the U.S. is stretched too thin to be effective. Growing tensions in Syria, Iran, the Korean Peninsula, and most currently, Turkey, suggest that military action may be necessary in those spots, too. Representatives of the present administration have denied there are suggestions to bring back the draft and of course, for George W. Bush to mention it, in an election year, would be political suicide; however a spokesperson for the conservative think tank, The Cato Institute, recently commented about the raging war in Iraq and the denials by the White House of a return to the draft by stating, “As an incumbent, safely in for a second term----that might be a different story.” Earlier this month, Lieutenant Benjamin Colgan of Kent, Washington was killed in Baghdad.. He was the father of two young daughters with a third child on the way. When interviewed, his father told of his last e-mail to the family. It said, “It’s getting real old and getting real crazy.” Naturally, at his funeral, his mother painfully wailed like Mrs. Kennon. But she also said this, “People keep asking , ‘Are the Iraqis better off?’”What we have to start asking is ‘Are we better off?’ And we’re not. We’re losing our children.” Reportedly, George W. Bush is a country music fan. Perhaps, he should take to heart the words of the late, great Johnny Cash, because parents shouldn’t have to fear their kids being drafted into an interminable war and grandparents shouldn’t have to fear for the future of their grandchildren and the hellish reality of a war that shouldn’t be.


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