People of my generation will remember the television show Baa Baa Black Sheep, later renamed Black Sheep Squadron. It was about Greg "Pappy" Boyington and his squadron of Marine pilots during WWII. Robert Conrad starred.
You can read about the real Pappy Boyington here. To summarize: part Sioux Indian, worked in gold mines during summers to make money during the Depression, went to the University of Washington, joined ROTC, graduated in 1934 with a degree in aeronautical engineering, joined the Reserves while working as a draftsman at Boeing, became an Marine Corps aviation cadet and then aviator--and this was all before WWII. He joined the American volunteer unit The Flying Tigers, defending China against the Japanese, and later was made commander of what has become known as the Black Sheep Squadron in the South Pacific. Is there a prettier fighter than the F4U Corsair with its gull-wings? Maybe the P51, but that's a different story. Boyington shot down 28 enemy aircraft before he himself was shot down, after which he spent 20 months in a Japanese POW camp. He was never listed as a prisoner--he was MIA. He was liberated and, shortly after the war, was awarded the Medal of Honor.
Boyington is an American hero.
There's been a move afoot to place a memorial to Boyington at his Alma Mater, the University of Washington. Unfortunately, such a memorial has been given the ixnay by the Student Senate. Why, you may ask? One student senator, a Jill Edwards, "didn't believe a member or the Marine Corps was an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce." Another genius, Ashley Miller, complained that there are already "many monuments at UW...(that)...that commemorate rich white men" (as if you get rich in the Marine Corps). Another complains that Boyington's service should be honored, but not the fact that he actually shot down enemy aircraft during that service.
I've written about the ignorance of college students before, here. I'm inclined to agree with young Miss Edwards, though: Marine Corps officers most definitely are not the sort of person that UW wants to produce. How sad for UW. I'd ask exactly what kind of person UW wants to produce, but I'm afraid the answer would be people like Miss Edwards and Miss Miller, quoted above.
Update, 2/18/06 10:48 am: I received the following email from a list of which I am a member. I received permission to repost it here, thinking it might give a somewhat different perspective to what I wrote above:
As has been pointed out by other members of this group the Seattle area is certainly a diverse and interesting crowd. Students ignorant of history are all over the country but we have an unusually weird crowd in the city and at the UW. Some adults and many students were taken back by this issue and the
whole memorial thing is having another look and will likely pass. http://www.komotv.com/stories/41916.htm
During the national parade frenzy following Desert Storm, the King County and Seattle City Council folks wanted to have a parade with I Corps and Fort Lewis soldiers marching, we initially agreed to it then the "negotiations" began. No tanks or vehicles, then no rifles, yada yada yada, by the end of it I think they didn't want uniforms or any things celebrating war in the
parade and could we not march, but just sort of "amble" through town wearing gay pride ribbons or something. Thank God the CG finally said thanks but no thanks. Seattle also has a dedicated corps of protestors who assemble in front of the Federal Court House to protest whatever tweaks them. The "Hell no We Won't Go" signs that marched down the interstate during Desert Shield and Storm were real fun, especially after someone explained that there wasn't a draft anymore and we didn't want them to "go". The WTO riots were big with many of the Anarchist types from Oregon joining in busting up Starbucks and Nike stores for their ties to who knows what.
Even the "blue collar red neck" city I work in (Everett WA) still has apparently 3 different groups who every Friday around lunch time stand on the various corners of the intersection of Hewitt and Colby "Demonstrating". It all revolves around the War in Iraq, all "support the troops", and Anti War and Pro War are two sides, I don't really know what is up with the third group, I walk by in Civilian cloths once in a while to watch and listen. Nobody seemed angry about anything, they just don't want the other group to be the last one demonstrating, this could go on forever!!
People from the East side of the state think we are all commies on the West Side of the Mountains. Washington State University (the arch rivals of the UW) is more conservative, the only protests/riots they've had in the last couple of decades was actual rioting that broke out when WSU and the local police told the students that they couldn't have underage drinking parties on campus, they tore the place up over that.