Sunday November 18, 2012

We are all for getting young people excited about science ("Herberg Middle School students thrill to National Science Center show," Nov. 8). How ever, we would like to remind Eagle readers that the Army chooses to involve itself in such projects for another reason: its need to cultivate in young minds a favorable image of military service.

For those who are skeptical, there are two points worth noting. First, it is important to note that one of the men staffing the Mobile Discovery Center -- which last week stopped at Reid Middle and Williams Elemen tary Schools -- is a certain Sgt. First Class Stephen Navarro. According to the Army’s Re cruiter Journal, a soldier of the same name and rank was an award-winning recruiter in 2009 within the Los Angeles District Recruiting Command. So, these traveling exhibits are staffed by recruiters working for the Mobile Exhibit Co., part of the U.S. Army Recruit ing Command.

Another thing to consider is that while soldiers manning these exhibits will not be "re cruiting" in the formal sense of the term, they are very consciously trying to "sell" young people on the military. When another exhibitor was asked about his work on Mobile Dis covery Centers, he told the Recruiter Journal that while he was "not there to teach or re cruit," he was "planting seeds in the minds" of the third-to-eighth graders visiting the ex hibit. "After the presentation," this soldier concluded, "the students ask about our jobs in the Army, and they think soldiering is cool."

Perhaps some parents of students at Reid Middle School and Williams Elementary School would be comfortable with the idea of military recruit ers spending the day with their children. But our letter is motivated by the concern that some parents were in fact not aware of the "pre-recruitment" potential of programs like the Mobile Discovery Center.

We urge parents and anyone else concerned about this issue to contact school administrators and ask them what business military recruiters have in talking to third-graders under the guise of teaching science.

SETH KERSHNER

Lee

DON LATHROP

Canaan, N.Y.

MARION LATHROP

Canaan, N.Y.

BRIAN TRAUTMAN

North Greenbush, N.Y.

Seth Kershner teaches at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Don Lathrop is a retired professor of Peace and World Order Studies at Berkshire Community College. Marion Lathrop is the founder of GIRO, The Global Issues Resource Organization of BCC. Brian Trautman teaches Peace and World Order Studies at Berkshire Community College. The writers are all members of Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice.