Decommissioning the Army

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Personal / Writing / Satire /

The Selective Service ignored my Pacifism note and drafted me. I and a bunch of fellow English majors were assigned to Whitehall Street Recruiting Station in New York. In our final summer of service, three of us were transfered to Camp Drum where we printed the daily orders. This unrecognized conscientious objector took satiric revenge, distributing the following through Camp Drum’s single barracks.



By order of President Kennedy, Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces, by support of Congress, by commission of the United Command of the United States Armed Forces and for review of its constitutionality by the United States Supreme Court, the Supreme Command of the United States announces that at the close of the 1963-1964 fiscal year new appropriations for defense spending will be limited to the amount needed to complete disbandment of the United States’ military forces.

Effective immediately: The Department of the Army, Washington 25, D.C. will direct disbandment procedures and all operational questions will be directed to them or their representatives.


The President feels that the military, having been instituted to protect and promote the democratic way of life, has rather been encouraging totalitarianism, suspension of freedom, lack of individual responsibility and assumption of abstract guilt for the bureaucracy, pass-the-buckism, cowardice and license to commit felonies in the name of good. “It was a good try,” said President Kennedy. “But it just didn’t work.”

An outline of disbandment procedures will be ready by January 1964 for distribution to all sovereign governments in both hemispheres, each in the official language of the country concerned. The United States will volunteer a staff of advisers proficient in this procedure and advised in its philosophical, moral, and economic repercussions to the United Nations. The staff will be made available to all countries.

President Kennedy explains, “The future is uncertain at best. Like Macbeth, our attempts to control and guide our fate were building toward our downfall.” President and Mrs. Kennedy’s elder child added that she thought it was “a keen idea.”

The President assures people dependent on the military that they will suffer no pay loss or loss of job opportunities while they are being relocated. Those involved in defense production will continue to receive pay for what ever services, if any, are required of them. Appropriation for these funds will be made during the 1964-1965 fiscal year, but under a different branch of congressional authority. A name for this authority has not yet been decided upon and suggestions from the public are welcome.

Members of the military who refuse to be relocated and prefer the do-nothingism of their present employment will receive a subsistence allowance for as long as they wish provided that they attend “responsibility classes” soon to be organized.

No relocation program has yet been organized for those who simply appreciate a chance to kill and mutilate. Again, Congress will welcome suggestions from the public.

A turn-our-spears-to-plowshears-and-prunninghooks wine-pressing and wiener-roast is being organized in all major cities and is tentatively scheduled for Midsummer’s day 1964.

[signed by pk as]

Lieutenant General
Supreme Command
Washington 25, D.C.

In our dash to defeat evil, we had only given it a wider field
in which to run its own wretched course.
The Alienist

Camp Drum had only a handful of enlisted men on permanent assignment. They slept with their wives or girl friends and ate nearly all their meals out. The staff at the mess hall prepared excellent fare for an entire company but typically served it to me alone. I was threatened with the stockade when I offered to take the leftovers to town to feed the hungry. Though seldom more than three slept in the barracks on any given night, I placed my fake orders on each bed. When I returned they were all gone.
I was lying on my bunk reading War and Peace when I heard multiple feet marching to a purpose. A gaggle of officers, captain to colonel, stormed into the barracks. Their fierce scrutiny of the interior was met by my mild but unfaltering gaze. They grumbled wordlessly, turned and left.

Surely, it was me they were looking for. They found me. And they chickened out. note



I “published” this brief piece myself on the Army’s mimeograph machine. Assigned to print Camp Drum’s daily orders, this pacifist draftee took comic revenge on the military machine. One July day my barracks-mates found an extra edition on their beds.

Historical Christians have seldom balked at war; there was no place for it in the Christianity that I embraced. Our safety or peril belonged in God’s hands. We’d survive or we wouldn’t. If the communists killed us, we’d be in heaven. Or in hell. Wherever we belonged. And the communists, or the Nazis, or the whoever, would be on earth, in their hell, where they belonged.

Christians have no right to be pragmatic.

2005 03 25 This module has been up a decade or so by now. It’s high time I move the meat of this note to a file on pacifism: to act as a pacifism swtiching station as it were.


Chickened Out:

If they didn’t chicken out, what were they doing? The more since that wasn’t the first time I’d faced danger from authority, I feel confident in my interpretation of the event (they wanted to cream a radical, but shied away when they perceived a damn-the-torpedoes philosopher. Debate probably wasn’t their forte). I have elsewhere [Link to be restored] confessed how a friend [Link to be restored] and I ignored the law and normal morality in order to indulge our passion for great architecture, helping ourselves to the closed Guggenheim Museum while that Wright masterpiece was under construction. One evening when we were paying our respects, we visited the administrative section. It had been no trouble slipping past the guard, but tiptoeing around the top floor I happened to step on a candy wrapper.

Our wondering how the sound carried was soon answered by the stirring of the guard. We were trapped. My friend crouched in the furthest corner, hoping that the final curve of the railing intended to keep the execs from tumbling down into the central well would conceal him. I tried to squeeze my skinny self even skinnier as I wished that the column I’d just been so admiring were a little more normally round. My heart was beating, so it seemed, far louder than the candy wrapper had crunched. Eventually, we heard the guard just the other side of the entrance to our cul-de-sac aerie. We could see from his shadow that he had his gun out and extended.

My friend and I debated with our eyes whether to surrender before we got shot. But the guard had hesitated. We’d heard him searching the entire executive section. We were in the last little part. Two more steps and he’d see us plain as day. But the shadow of the extended arm, gun in hand withdrew.

Suddenly it made sense. He must have known he had found us. He “knew” he was in the “right.” He had the authorized gun. But who were we? How many of us were there? And what weapons did we have? The guard had apparently decided that discretion was more appropriate to a crummy job than valor.

Besides, he must have seen that we had done no damage. There was nothing in the building, still under construction, to steal. Whatever was lying around we’d left undisturbed. We listened to his footsteps and knew when he had retreated all the way back to the little utility room he’d been sitting in when we first slipped past.

We were free to continue our roaming but the zest for it had left us. We nodded to each other that we too had had enough. Oddly, we didn’t tiptoe out, but walked boldly. Any worries we might have had about the guard screwing his courage to shoot a couple of kids walking openly in an empty building would have been dispelled by the palpable absence of that guard. We came to the door of his utility room. It was shut to all but a crack. We stood in front of it. We knocked. No answer. We pushed it open a hair more. The guard sat on his chair with his hands in his lap.

“Great building, isn’t it?”

He nodded. We left.

I’ll never know the details of what the officers of Camp Drum had intended. But I’ll carry to the grave my triumph in their doing nothing.

Chicken? Chicken shit.



About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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