Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Meat Tags

Rick Reilly wrote about "the flattop Marine town of Jacksonville," North Carolina, before the invasion of Iraq began:
"A lot of 'em are young and scared to be going over," says Rachael Mays of the Sleeping Dragon tattoo parlor. "They come in for their meat tags. You know, dog tags for the skin. Their name, rank, serial number, religion, blood type and gas-mask size. They want 'em in case they're blown in half. Then at least some part of them can come back to their folks."

. . . At the base theater, 600 Marines pack the joint but not because Catch Me If You Can is playing. They're working on their wills Moonie-style under the direction of a base attorney. One wants Over the Rainbow played at his funeral. Another wills all 50 guys in his company $10 each. His savings just barely cover it. ("Where Have All the Young Men Gone?: Why the Preparation for War on Iraq Really Hits Home in Jacksonville, N.C.," Time, February 17, 2003, p. 104)
Reilly concluded the article by quoting what the tattooist says to her "meat-tagged" Marines as she sends them off: "'For God's sake,' she says, as she sees them to the door, 'keep your head down'" (p. 104).

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