Back in my youth there was a shooting war going on in SE Asia and the Selective Service System, AKA The Draft, realized there was little profit calling up guys at the middle and upper ranges of the authorized ages because they were either likely to come up with some manner of deferment or simply bolt for Canada. This arithmetic left them with 18- and 19-year-olds, so you should probably make it the “lower-middle, middle, and upper ranges.”
Even then, on the lower end, I was the first person to claim my brethren as either solid patriots with honorable intentions or complete morons, willing to do whatever Uncle Sam [del]suggested[/del] demanded (see the difference between the thinking of a guy who’d been around the block a few times and and a natural Grunt fresh out of high school? ).
My Draft Lottery number was 274 and the Draft ended a few months before I qualified so I never tested my hypothesis. However, at the same time I first saw Casablanca, with its famous scene of Vichy French singing La Marseillaise, drowning out the Germans singing “Die Wacht Am Rhein.”
Those guys from the Reign of Terror were monsters, but they could knock out an anthem that could drive the smarts out of a guy.
Later I saw Zulu. I realize that
A. I’m not Welsh.
B. Neither were many of the men at Rorke’s Drift.
C. And they probably sang something else.
but DAMN! “Men of Harlech” stirs many of the same feelings of self [del]destruction[/del] sacrifice, feelings that none of the USA’s songs convey. Sure, “Marching Through Georgia” came close when I saw a troop of Confederate re-enactors sully our 4th of July parade, but I wasn’t sure of all the words and they had fixed bayonets.
Is there ANY American song that shuts down the “This is suicidal!” receptors in a guy’s brain? I’ll try to limit this to men because, despite Edith Piaf’s La Marseillaise and young Charlotte Church’s Men of Harlech, I suspect that it works better on guys. And are there other songs that inspire otherwise-sensible men to walk–nay, RUN–to their deaths?