Monday, February 19, 2007

Why have I never been a soldier?

That's a pertinent question. Why has nobody in Australia ever asked me to wear a military hat, or don a uniform? I seem to recall that my father had been enrolled in the Grafton regiment of His Majesty's colonial light-horse cavalry (or something like that), whatever that might have been, but I have no recollections of seeing him dressed up to kill local Red Indians.

Meanwhile, asking me why I've never been a soldier is more than just a trivia thing. In fact, it's the only outstanding question in my lengthy French naturalization dossier, which I intend to submit to the préfecture in Grenoble in the next few days. I'm expected to send these authorities a short personal letter explaining why I've never been an Aussie soldier. To tell the truth, up until I was forced to think about it, I had no sound idea whatsoever of why I've never been an Aussie soldier. As far as I know, nobody in Australia ever sent me a letter stating that I should line up for military service. I was a baby during the final years of World War II, and a school kid during the Korean War. As far as the Vietnam War was concerned, I don't know retrospectively whether or not my country expected me to lend a hand in the extermination of Asian neighbors with Monsanto's notorious orange exfoliation nicety. I don't think so, and I certainly hope not. I would like to tell the French authorities that the real reason why I've never been a soldier is that I've never felt like going out of my way to kill my fellow-men. But I fear they'd take that as a lighthearted explanation. So, I'm searching for more serious justifications.

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