Such a quaint idea, “Eager young men”. That old American ideal. Those young men in uniform stepping up to save our country. Did that ever really exist? Maybe a form of it was there for World War II, but even then, the idea of eagerly chafing at the bit to go into battle for the good of the world is something very far from us now. And how many were really eager to go to war in 1944?
Today we have men (and women) hungrily hurling themselves into some fray of destruction. It is scary to see these people, like it was scary to see the Gestapo marching in the streets of Germany. But now they’re in Apple Pie America. Why do we cherish these ridiculous stereotypes of our culture?
I suppose when I was twenty-one I was eager for my life to take shape, for my life to turn into something that I could respect. But that was in 1972 and that world was filled with very unrespectable events. In 1974 I sat by the window in a high rise on E. 14th Street in Manhattan and waiting for Nixon to resign and feeling some pride in this country. That this man was disgraced enough to leave. It was a good thing. But in 1975 men were coming back from Vietnam in terrible shape. This wasn’t World War II, there was no “Welcome Home Heroes.” There were lost, angry, addicted boys. There was no eagerness. We wanted to forget the war, move on and our government, the one that sent the boys to war, wanted to forget about them, too.
On January 6, 2021 more eager young men defamed the good name of our idealized country. There is a hole in the fabric now. It is visible and grotesque. Those boys.
There are too many bad moments when I think of Eager Young Men. It is not a phrase that brings forth baseball games and joy.
It is a phrase used to describe a fallacy.