Change in the Air
“Our nation was built on the premise of the citizen soldier. In our democracy, I believe it is the responsibility of every citizen to protect the nation, and every citizen who can meet the qualifications for service should have that opportunity.”
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta uttered those words today, paving the way for women to serve on the front lines of America’s wars for the first time in our nation’s history. Of course, women have already been serving in combat roles as pilots but this new step represents the closing of the last official barrier to full equality in the armed forces. It has been an interesting time for the military. Just over 12 months ago they ended Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the war in Afghanistan is coming to a quicker end than previously planned and now this.
The military has always been the leading edge of change in the country. After World War I immigrants began to integrate more fully into American culture. After World War II blacks and women begin to agitate for equality. After Vietnam we lost our unquestioning trust in the government. Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us the perils of interventionism. The military has driven advancements in arms, medicine and technology.
At the same time this was all taking place the woman who may be our first female president gave a strong performance on Capital Hill. While I don’t necessarily agree with all of her politics, one can’t help but be impressed with the historical significance of Hillary Clinton’s career.
Meanwhile America’s senseless war on marijuana seems to be winding down. My own state, still a long way from legalization, is considering allowing the growing of industrial hemp. As the former center of hemp production for the U.S. this is welcome news.
2013 is new and I am just as vulnerable to over-enthusiasm as the next person, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I am hopeful for this year. It feels like we are moving forward for the first time in a while.