WHEN A G.I. WASN'T A MEDICAL PROCEDURE
Arrrrrrrrrrrrrr maties! This may seem like a change of course from what you might expect from reading my past postings, i.e. “Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond,” but avast ye swabbies! I’m preparin’ t' fire a broadside in this here blog. I have no doubt that the reason the world of showbiz and beyond has been good to me is because my country was good to me.
The young kid above is Seaman Lloyd Thaxton, circa 1944, right out of boot camp and proudly displaying the uniform of the United States Navy. What has this to do with showbiz, you might ask? Well, sit down and this here Captain (eh, Seaman) will spin a yarn or two.
According to a recent Los Angeles Times editorial, most of today’s National Guard members serving in this “War on Terror” want financial aid for college when they leave the military. Sounds reasonable to me. However, according to the neo-political people, that is just too much to ask.
Wait a minute. I thought the rallying cry of our nation was “Support Our Troops.”
When I finished my term in the navy during World War II, I stepped right out of uniform and into college. Not just any college. I chose Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, one of the most expensive colleges in the country. I chose Northwestern because at the time it was one of the top communication schools in the nation with television, radio and theater professionals teaching classes. And you know what it cost me? Zilch! The good old US of A paid the bill along with a weekly stipend to tide me over and pay my room (I worked for my board). They were sure supporting this trooper.
In case you weren’t there and done that, the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 (better known as the G.I. Bill) provided for college or vocational education for returning World War II veterans (commonly referred to as G.I.s) as well as one year of unemployment compensation. It also provided no-down-payment low interest loans for returning veterans to buy homes and start businesses.
In the peak year of 1947, veterans accounted for 49 percent of college admissions. By the time the original GI Bill ended on July 25, 1956, 7.8 million World War II veterans had participated in an education or training program.
Instead of veterans coming home to look for jobs that just weren’t there, they were able to first get a college degree and this raised the standards for everyone living in America. Sure, it cost a lot. But it was all paid back because the country became much richer because of it. The opportunities became boundless.
Without the G.I. Bill, I never would have been able to afford a college education, let alone at a prestigious school like NU. I would most likely still be in Toledo, Ohio today, working in the Toledo Blade press room like my hard working father. A good job, but, like most returning veterans, I wanted to do better. The G.I.Bill gave me, and millions of other vets that opportunity.
Our soldiers, who are putting their lives on the line today as most of us go about life as if there was no war at all, deserve the same. Supporting the troops means, not only making sure every returning soldier gets proper medical attention, but also a G.I. Bill of their own so they will all get the same chance we World War II vets got to prepare for their future. I even bought my first home on the no-down-payment G.I. Bill (at 4%).
Like the original, a G.I. Bill for “War on Terror” veterans is going to be costly. I’m certainly willing to pay an extra tax and sincerely believe everyone who took advantage of the G.I. Bill back after World War II would also agree to chip in. It's pay back time and the only way to really support our troops.
Question: Don’t you think I looked pretty good in that uniform? My mom always thought so.