“What’d you do in the war, Daddy?”
The child’s question looms over so many of us of a certain age. Though, in my daughter’s case, a more likely inquiry would be something like, “Hey, dude, what’s your iTunes password?”
But if the question of wartime service ever comes up, Donald Trump has now provided the perfect answer. I went to military school, kid. That’s like going to war.
According to the New York Times, the man who would be commander in chief told biographer Michael D’Antonio that enlistment in the armed services was hardly necessary given his years at a military boarding school, which provided “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”
Yes, as we can both attest, war may be hell but military school ain’t exactly a day at Miami’s Trump International spa. Trump attended New York Military Academy, class of 1964. I was Castle Heights Military Academy, class of 1965. After what we went through, the Donald and I, who needs those redundant experiences suffered by soldiers in Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. Trump told D’Antonio that he “always felt that I was in the military in the true sense because I dealt with those people.”
Oh, me too — and not just any grunt outfit.
Think Navy Seals, given my penchant for secret, undercover, nocturnal missions — like stuffing my bunk to create the illusion that I was asleep in bed and sneaking down creaky wooden dormitory steps, then running through the night to meet up with girls or to pick up a sack of burgers at a joint down the highway (which I sold, at a Trump-like profit, to the boys back in the dorm. Talk about art of the deal).
Sure, guys in the actual military risked death. But I hazarded expulsion. Or maybe a maiming if Sarah Johnson’s daddy ever caught me nosing around.
We slouched around the drill ground with World War II vintage rifles slung over our shoulders. We spit-shined our shoes. We attended our bunks like anal-retentive house maids. You know: all the stuff that makes a guy battle ready.
For Saturday morning inspection, I hung my forbidden stash of civilian clothes out my dorm room window. For our weekly forced march to church, I initially joined the Episcopalians because they were nearest to campus, then switched to the Baptists to take advantage of superior air conditioning. See? Military school taught us strategic thinking.
Following graduation, Donald avoided Vietnam with a convenient diagnosis of heel spurs and a high draft number. I dodged the draft George Bush-style by joining an Army Reserve unit (where I noticed that actual basic training did not in any way remind me of Castle Heights Military Academy).
The reserves enabled me to spend the war years driving jeeps on country roads while drinking prodigious amounts of beer.
Somehow, I never quite consumed enough beer to make me think, “Dammit, I’ve been to military school. Might as well make me commander in chief.”