Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I Wore THE Ring!!!!!

I am soooooooo excited and soooooooo pissed off at the same time. Apparently, a ring company, Josteen or something, was here this afternoon trying to get our business from Herff-Jones, and they made the ring, and the guy had one,and our principal came down to my room and calls me out and shows me the ring,and I wore it, and MY NEXT PHONE IS A CAMERA PHONE. OH MY GOD. I CAN'T BELIEVE I DIDN'T HAVE A CAMERA!!!!!!!!
But I touched and wore the Red Sox World Series Ring. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO COOL!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Women in Combat: The Younger Generation

After reading the discussion hosted at Feministing and these two articles (1, 2), my Social Science students (all seniors) and I had a discussion about the role of women in the military, and it was really suprising to me. Even my conservative-to-the-core students felt that the policy that bars women from direct combat units and the new push to eliminate women from any position that could be involved in combat was just silly. Women, they argued, are just as cut out for combat as men, and as long as they are held to the same standards, they should be allowed to take part in at least combat support. Now is not the time, my students argued, for the Army to be removing 15% of its force from what the MSNBC article refers to as a '360 degree war.' The point was also made in our discussion that the military would know better than the politicians about what is possible or not possible with female soldiers, as well as their abilities to hold their own. This is evident in the fact that the army is currently skirting the 'women cannot be assigned to combat' rule by instead assigning women to 'attached' units. I would like to highlight a portion of the MSNBC article, as it shows just how the Army is using women in Iraq, and how these women are breaking barriers and changing minds:

Spec. Shavodsha Hodges, 29, of San Antonio, says she joined the Army because her GI husband encouraged her to. She is a veteran of the 2003 Iraq invasion and well into her second year in a war zone. She and about 100 other women make up 20 percent of Provancha's logistics battalion in Mosul. They serve as truck and Stryker drivers, medics, mechanics and supply soldiers like Hodges who conduct between 50 and 70 convoy missions a month. Ferrying critical goods from Mosul to outlying bases on the precarious roads of northern Iraq, Hodges has developed keen instincts.

On Oct. 29, she was in a supply convoy heading out of the hostile town of Tall Afar, near the Syrian border. "We were told to watch out for an Iraqi national in black," she recalled. "Within seconds we were hit with an IED," or improvised explosive device, the military's term for a roadside bomb.

As her Humvee began to roll over, Hodges reached over and grabbed the legs of Pfc. Gregory Burchett, who was manning a .50-caliber machine gun. She pulled him down from the hatch and into the vehicle just before it flipped, saving him from being crushed.Burchett was disoriented and moaning in pain. His face was bleeding from multiple shrapnel wounds and he couldn't move his arm. Hodges helped him out of the vehicle, but almost as soon they climbed out they came under small-arms fire from insurgents 200 yards away.

"Stay down!" Hodges yelled. Cradling Burchett's head in her lap, she lay forward over his upper body to shield him from the bullets. "Don't get up!" she said, twice sheltering the gunner from enemy rounds.

Meanwhile, the Humvee's commander, Staff Sgt. Armando Mejia, had his hand trapped under the vehicle. After the shooting stopped, Hodges and other soldiers pushed it up enough to free him. Only later did she realize that she, too, was injured.

For her quick thinking and bravery in the ambush, Hodges became the first woman in her brigade to be awarded the Army Commendation Medal with "V" device, for "valorous conduct" that "saved the lives of her fellow soldiers."

I'm pretty sure that the soldiers in Spec. Hodges unit would reject the idea that women are incapable of doing the job and staying cool. But what do I know, I'm only a veteran and I'm not stuck in the Victorian Era as some of our politicians seem to be.

The History Wars Revisited

In the 1990's, much of the social studies education establishment was involved in a rather nasty dispute over the development of national standards in social studies and history education. As one could assume by the fact that we have no official national standards in the field today, this dispute was never really resolved. On one side were historians and educators that wished to teach the bad of American history along with the brilliance; on the other side were those with a more traditional approach to history, feeling as though the great men and great events of the past were being denigrated by the new approach, and many of the (reasonable) complaints were echoed through and distorted that great historian, Rush Limbaugh, which led to a more defensive posture on the part of the standard developers. Now, as a renewed emphasis on history education begins to appear, the online journal Slate is sponsoring a debate between Diane Ravitch, a fine writer and educator of the conservative stripe, and Jon Wiener, a professor of history at UC-Irivine and also a fine writer. It should be great to follow, with Ravitch most likely advocating the traditionalist approach and Wiener the 'new' history, but we shall see.
Wiener opens the debate by discussing Eric Foner's new history text,Give Me Liberty, which I have yet to read but will have to pick up. He makes a great point, too:
The point is not to avoid teaching about American ideals, as some critics of this approach might charge; the point is to make sure to teach about the gap between ideals and realities as well. The Declaration of Independence described liberty as an "inalienable" right, yet the founding fathers accepted the existence of slavery. The Spanish-American War was fought in the name of democracy and freedom, but it ended with a horrifying campaign of counterinsurgency against Filipinos and the establishment of American economic domination and a long-term military presence in both the Philippines and in Cuba. The debate in the 1890s between imperialist and anti-imperialist ideals, between Rudyard Kipling's "White Man's Burden" and Mark Twain's withering contempt for the war camp, takes on a striking relevance today with the Iraq war: Did we fight to bring freedom to the people of the Philippines?

Really, to teach only the good without the bad is to neglect to do our duty as historians and as educators, and the reverse holds true as well. This is a nation of great flaws, but also of great promise, and we must teach our students of both so that one day, the promises shall outweigh the flaws.
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