Saturday, June 09, 2007

Served 15 Months in Iraq? This Non Alcoholic Beverage Is For You

The most anti-freedom legislation passed in recent history may have been the highway bill championed by then Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole. States would not get federal highway funds unless they raised their drinking age to 21. I served in the military shortly after this went into effect, and it drove me insane. We still drank, mind you. We just couldn't go into a bar.

It must be especially infuriating to some of our combat troops today. There are likely people in the theater on their second tours who haven't hit 21 yet. After being handed a rifle, ammunition, a grenade or two, and told to distinguish between shia and sunni, between civilian, terrorist, insurgent, militia, and policemen, body stank from sweat in the desert's 120 degree heat, you get home after your tour that has been extended to fifteen months, and are promoted early as a Non-commissioned officer because of the bang up job you did. You are told that you are not responsible enough to handle a Budweiser when you walk into a club because your birthday isn't for three weeks.

The following is a true story. After serving 2 and a half years in the army, my magical moment had come. I turned 21 on a Saturday, so my older buddies hung out with me until midnight Friday night and headed to the coolest bar in town. We had just got back from a 2 week field excercise the week before, and all I could think about was getting to go out with the guys.

We arrived at about 12:30 and we were asked to show ID. My friends got in, but the bouncer informed me that it was still Friday evening, and he wasn't sure if it was legal for me to drink. Being the smart ass I was, I asked him if it was the fourth now or the fifth. What day was it? It took 10 minutes of haggling just to allow this soldier who had volunteered to take lives, and risk his life in to a club to have a drink. It spoiled the start of the evening, but we did recover.

Until there is a movement to totally change the law, I have a modest proposal. Anybody flashing a military ID card is allowed to have a beer. Until you raise the age of enlistment, it's silly to keep this discriminatory law in place. You can sign contracts, buy a house, take out a loan, smoke cigarettes, decide if a person approaching the $300,000 vehicle the military trusts you to drive is worthy of life or death.

I think you can be trusted with a cold one.