For the nearly non-current issue of the gung-ho print edition of Washington City Paper, I wrote about the focus on high school football that military recruiters have taken of late.
I’ve been intrigued by the recruiting tactics ever since I went to a homecoming game at my alma mater, Falls Church High, five years ago.
In the game program there was a full-page advertisement for the National Guard that had photos of men and women rescuing forest-fire and flood victims and handing out water bottles to children.
The copy in the ad, which was the only spot paid for by a non-local sponsor in the whole program, touted how sign-ups could get an “[u]p to $20,000 enlistment bonus” and “100 percent tuition assistance.”
The job description for National Guard troops was very exciting: “Whether they’re going up against hurricanes, floods, blizzards or wildfires, the National Guard is always the winning team.”
There wasn’t one image or word on the page related to weapons or war.
Only months earlier I’d read a report in The Washington Post that said 41 percent of U.S. military units in Iraq were National Guard units.
Falls Church High is among the more culturally diverse schools in the entire country, and in Fairfax County falls in the lower end of the economic spectrum.
I surveyed the athletic departments of the more moneyed schools in the county, including Westfield and Langley, and found that the military didn’t bother taking out ads in the football programs at their games.
I recently talked to a teacher who works part-time at several high schools in D.C. and in Montgomery County.
He sees the recruiters working all the time at Wilson Senior High.
“Never at B-CC,” he told me.
Guess the rich kids aren’t as patriotic. What other answer could there be?