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Urban Druid: Boots on the Ground and “Golfees”

Boots On The Ground

In December 1961 there were approximately 3,200 U.S. military personnel in Vietnam as “advisors”.  Several years later, by the time I was a 10-year-old boy on Dyckman Street (near the northern end of Manhattan) there were roughly 530,000 troops in Vietnam.


…there will be boots on the ground…

I can vividly recall looking around at the 17 year olds.  How I worried for them.  With Walter Cronkite giving me the Vietnam body count each night on CBS News, knowing they would soon be called to serve.  I turned 17 the same year the draft was abolished. I had so conditioned myself to serve that eventually I enlisted.  Four years.  United States Marine Corps.  Somehow, I’d always known in the back of my mind that I would.  Luckily for me, it was during peace time. Not so lucky were the 220 Marines, 18 Sailors and 3 Soldiers killed in the Beirut barracks bombing in October 1983.

…November 2014…Sitting on the sofa clicking the remote.  CNN stops me, reporting that there up to 1,500 more “advisors” being sent to Iraq…Where there are currently 1,600 troops, previously allowed to remain.  Taking the number to 3,100.  3,100 “advisors”?

I grab the remote again and start clicking.  To get away.  From the ruminating.  A respite.  An oasis in the desert.  I stop on the QVC channel. There.  That’s better.  I never buy anything.  It is the host:  Lisa Robertson.  Her voice never fails to soothe me.  Taking me into a deep meditative state.

Begone CNN!  I’ve seen your movie before; it’s a rerun. “Advisors?” Ha!  Our  government cannot keep using… and reusing… our volunteers in these never-ending wars. Soon after there are ‘boots on the ground’…and there will be ‘boots on the ground’…whispers about bringing back the draft will begin. Eventually, they will have their way…

Now, when I look around at the 10 year olds, how I worry for them.  Not just the 10-year-old boys, but the 10-year-old girls, because they’ll be coming for them, as well. It unfolds as the masses are wrapped up in TMZ and “Dancing With The Stars”…

Not for me,  Lisa Robertson on QVC is my escape.  Maybe we’ll all wake up before it is too late… I’m optimistic.


After what had transpired recently in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City police officers wore golf shirts, instead of riot gear, during a Staten Island rally held in honor of Eric Garner, who died after being subdued by police with an illegal chokehold.


New York Metropolitan Police uniforms 1871

…In the mid-19th Century New York City had become 25% Irish-Catholic overnight due to the Great Famine in Ireland. The police, up to that point, wore only special hats to identify themselves. Eventually, a new uniform had been introduced and there was a proud formation of police officers, standing at attention, on the steps of City Hall, showing-off the new uniforms. The Irish saw this and began rioting. Uniforms were torn from some officers. The reason given by the Irish was that the police officers looked exactly like British soldiers, ‘back home’ occupying Ireland. The police immediately canceled the newly issued uniforms and instead provided each officer with only a copper badge. Soon, they began to be referred to as: “Coppers”… then “Cops” for short.  At least, this is one explanation as to the origin of the term.

Nothing has changed. The militarization of the police freaks the American people out. It freaked them out 160 years ago.  It freaks them out today. We’ve been dumbed down, but not that dumb. Not yet. Like the federal government, the local government will eventually have their way regarding militarization. Just as New York City police officers eventually started donning uniforms again some years after the rioting.  But, for now, I’m happy the police wore golf shirts that weekend in Staten Island. Maybe we’ll start calling them “Golfees”.

Kevin Patrick Dowling

Kevin Patrick Dowling is a native New Yorker living amongst the masses. Observing from the trenches. A former sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, who had cut his teeth in the brutal 1970s Bronx. Currently working on a novel, he is an actor and playwright. A former stagehand, bookie, restaurant manager, construction worker, security officer.

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1 Response

  1. Elenor Thies says:

    Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular article! It is the little changes that will make the largest changes. Thanks for sharing!

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