Monday, June 30, 2014

Rounding out my post-DADT work, I visit US Merchant Marine Academy briefly

As a post exercise following the 2011 repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and as part of my own intention to visit all the service academies at some point in my life, I made a quick bus trip to the US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY, on the Long Island North Shore, a few miles bus ride from the LIRR station at Great Neck, NY, itself a town made famous by the movie “North by Northwest”.

The grounds appear smaller and more modest than those of other academies.  Students are automatically part of the US Naval Reserve, and must maintain their Naval commissions after graduation, and be employed in occupations related to the Merchant Marine, which can include military service.  Midshipmen participated in the response to the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and some reserve members have fought in Iraq and Kuwait (see the Wikipedia article here ).

The USMMA has a lower profile, but in the soap opera "Days of our Lives", one character was written out of the story by his joining the Merchant Marine/ 
I have taken the standard Naval Academy Tour twice (in the 1980s and 1990s), visited the USMA at West Point in 1994 and then 2011, visited the Coast Guard Academy (outside perimeter only) in 2011, and Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs in 1973, and the Merchant Marine Academy today.

I had a conversation at the bus stop with an older woman who remembered the days of the Vietnam era draft.  I mentioned the student deferments of the past, and said that some might have seen going to Canada as making a sacrifice.  She said, don’t tell a wounded veteran that.  Readers of my books know that I made a lot of the issue of the draft-deferment issue in my own response to “don’t ask don’t tell”, and that Charles Moskos advocated returning to the draft and ending DADT in the fall of 2001, after 9/11.  
I see I have an earlier posting about the USMMA on Aug. 15, 2012, when I was in the NYC area but did not have time to actually visit the place.  

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