My father told me many years ago not to sell out my principles, no matter what. He said I might find myself one day with an unpopular belief, but if I truly believed I was right, not to cave in to what the opposition wants just to fit in.
He said I'd make enemies, but at least I'd know I believed in myself and my beliefs and never gave in to the status quo.
So, now I stand ready to make some enemies... Especially with the MADD crowd.
Well, my motto is to piss off people...
Yesterday afternoon I was shopping at the local Kroger's supermarket and after finding everything I needed, I was in the checkout line. A few people ahead of me was a young man with a very short haircut and a dark 'farmer' tan. I could tell right away by the way he was carrying himself that he was in the military even though he was wearing street clothes.
When the checkout chick asked for his ID for the six-pack of beer he was trying to buy and he pulled out his military ID card.
I knew it.
Well, it appeared that this young soldier was only 19, and therefore couldn't buy beer in West Virginia. He walked away dejected.
It wouldn't have been so bad, but the checkout chick made a joke about the "Little Kid" trying to buy beer with the next customer in line. I didn't see the humor in it, and it only pissed me off. She tried the same joke with me but I didn't bite.
I paid for my groceries and was walking to my truck when I saw the young soldier outside talking on his cell phone. I walked up to him and asked him what unit he was with.
"25th ID, sir." He told me.
"You just get back from the 'Sandbox?" I asked.
"Yes sir. Got home yesterday. First time home in two years."
"Do me a favor. Wait here for me. I'll be right back."
"Eh, ok sir."
I put my groceries in my truck and went back into the store and went directly to the beer and spirits aisle, grabbing a 30-pack of Budweiser. I made sure I went to the same checkout lane I was in before and made it a point of inferring what I was doing, daring her to say anything to me. She didn't and was strangely silent as I paid for the brew and walked out of the store.
I walked back over to where the soldier was standing and handed over the illicitly bought booze.
"Ah shit sir, you didn't have to do that!" He said smiling. "How much do I owe you?"
"Yes I did have to do it soldier. And you don't owe me anything. It's the least I could do. Just do me a favor, ok? Don't go getting yourself all shitfaced and get behind the wheel, ok?"
"Yes sir!" He beamed at me and took the beer to his car, waving back at me.
Let me tell you this. If a man, and yes he is a man, can go over to Iraq, carry an M-16, get shot at and possibly be killed for this country, he should be able to buy a damn beer whether he's 21 or not. He deserves it, by God.
How can we ask our young men and women to go over seas to fight our battles for us and not give them some leeway? Let them have a damn beer.
My father told me of the very same thing happening to him when he came home from Europe in 1945. He had just help defeat the entire Wermach astride his M-10 Tank Destroyer attached to the 3rd Armored division, steamrolled across France, Belgium and Germany, came home to be told he wasn't old enough to sit with his older brother and have a beer in the neighborhood bar.
On top of that, at 20, my father wasn't even old enough to vote!
It's why they changed the voting age back in the 60's... A country that was drafting it's young men to go off to a foreign land and wouldn't allow them to vote was morally wrong.
And I equate the same thing with the drinking age and soldiers.
I'm not saying we should lower the drinking age, far from it. I'm saying there should be exceptions.
If you're in the Armed Services of the United States, you should be allowed to have a beer or two. If you aren't, tough shit. Wait until you're 21.
Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden