Growing up green
By: Mike Walton (blackeagle)
Posted On: 2019-11-18
Shutterstock image purchased by Mike Walton
Every child in America should spend their first eleven years growing up green. That was the consensus of my high school peers and some of my personal friends, as well.
One of our high school peers is a history buff. He hosts a Facebook page for those of us who lived in the community and encourages us -- former students, teachers, administrators -- to comment and interact with each other (not a hard thing to do...*smiling*) on the topic or something related to it. Every single day he forces me to think a little and reflect on our community's, this nation's and this world's history as he remembers and shares with us researched information about things which escaped from our minds. They escaped from my mind because I was more interested in knowing if Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man, will get out of Doc Oct's latest trap he set for the web-slinger, or if the Avengers will crack due to conflicting egos. Or simply if I ever will get up enough nerve to actually KISS Brenda Kay as opposed to just look at her with "googled eyes" *smiling*
He did not bring it up, but one of my peers did. It was more than an idea -- it was carried out in our high school when I went there from 1973 to 1977...and continued onward since. It was the concept that "we were all green" -- green as in Army green, the main color of the high school and our letter jackets and just about everything else there. In the middle of the civil rights movement's apex, desegregation to the north of us a few short miles, and the Klan re-establishing themselves a short ten miles to the east of the base, the children at Fort Knox and their parents regarded themselves as Soldiers First, family members second, and community members third.
Being in third place was not a consolation prize at all. Men and women were extremely proud of their base and the people leading it. Yes, there was racism in several areas of the Spider-Man, but adults kept kids out of it for the most part -- and as the years went onward, those who did not conform got transferred.
So the conversation started, "When did you discover you were, ahem, "different" from others?" I explained in my answer that I considered myself the son of a Sergeant -- which was a great thing because being a Sergeant's son was a lot better than being a Specialist's son. I never considered myself a "black" anything all through high school...we simply had little time for such foolishness. We were more interested in getting people to like us for ourselves. Doing well in class stuff and finding someone who could help us understand Spanish or Latin more — hanging out at the pool or the golf course.
Even the people that some outside the military would consider "hody tody" -- we didn't have that crap when I was growing up -- and my peers backed me up in saying the same things about the way they were raised and managed too. We knew who's dad did what and how important he was. But he was someone's DAD, and perhaps my DAD's boss or boss' boss.
You learned early that EVERYONE'S DAD AND MOM is by default YOUR Dad and Mom too. Even if they don't look like you, don't talk like you, or can't say their "t's like your Mom can. There was respect...you gave it to them, and they gave it to you until you broke that trust. You want to "act a fool," those other parents will give you "what for" and then tell your parents, which made the punishment even worse.
Everyone was treated the same -- that Major's child who lived in the duplex on the hill had to wait until the Sergeant down in the valley got their repairs done first at the hospital. Even the General's daughters had to wait until more seriously ill patients were seen first -- and everyone respected that the "guy who runs everything" didn't "use his name and rank" to "buck the line" but waited patiently with his wife and daughters before one of them could be seen.
(but man, you should have seen the scurrying around there in the lobby! *smiling*)
Those who participated in the discussion came to the same conclusion: every child in this nation should have been exposed, if not raised, the way we were. If so, we would NEVER hear "Black lives matter" because it would be a no-brainer -- that *every life matters*, regardless of the skin tone. Black men (and women) did not fear the police, in a large part because we KNOW that whatever they pulled us over for, our parents would be saying "prove it!" and the police would prove it and our butts would be blistered -- and if they could not "prove it", the police would have their butts "blistered" and they would possibly be spending time in the "cooler" awaiting pre-trial hearings. We -- those of us who have a car and realized the responsibility it comes with it -- were more scared of the police TELLING OUR FAMILIES what we were doing. "Please, write me a ticket!" a friend of mine was pleading with the military policeman, "lock me up...just please don't tell my Dad...he'll literally knock me into the middle of next week over this!!"
If every child in America was raised like the typical military "Brat," they would have an appreciation for this nation, it's rules, and it's people. Nobody said you have to LIKE everyone, but your parents taught you that there was some respect due people because of their age, place in life, or position. Our dads and moms taught us at an early age that the reason why everyone wears a nametag is so you can address them by that name tag -- not "Hey You!" or “Ho.”
(the last would get your mouth washed out for 15 seconds with that God-awful Irish Spring soap. I still say that Proctor and Gamble should put a precautional label on it, saying that it is not supposed to be used as a mouthwash. I wrote to Proctor and Gamble, asking them for consideration in doing so; I received a letter saying in part "if you and others were cleaner in how you speak, parents and others would not use our product that way as it was never intended to be a mouthwash or teeth cleanser.")
Like the idea of the draft, to give a broad representation of America the opportunity to share in the defense of our nation; the idea behind every kid spending time "being Green" would provide them with an appreciation for what it is honestly like to be in an environment whereby everyone is close to the "same", with the "same goals" and the "same feelings". Not to grow up as "robots" -- I can tell you that the people I went to school with, most did not "tote the line" afterward. But to grow up respectful and with as less of a fear of authority than the kids and young people of today.
Growing up green. We played, held hands, picked each other up, dated, and cried together. It was not a perfect time -- we did not live in a utopian colony. We still watched the horrors of death and destruction on TV; teased each other with names we picked up socially or through the Big Tube; and we suffered heartbreak, crisis, unplanned pregnancies, and being a gal in a guy's body (or the other way around). Only thing was, we handled those things with compassion, caring, and with true love.
We mattered. Our lives mattered. Our communities mattered, and because we grew up respecting adults, we garnered respect from them, and they listened to us. Not everything went our way. Not every decision was in our community's favor. We had a losing football team for years, and it did not stop the enthusiasm and pride of those players.
Because those of us who grew up at Fort Knox, Kentucky -- or one of the three military communities -- Van Voorhis, Rose Terrace or Dietz Acres were -- and still are -- green. Every young child should experience this. Maybe over time, they will.