These were the words of one of my high school classmates as our history class began a unit about East Asia. Far East: Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam.
Yes, those countries were remote and beyond the radar of our awarenesses at that time, the wonderfully innocent, relatively trouble-free 1950s.
Way too soon after my classmate’s objection to studying those countries everything changed. We were at war in Korea. Who ever heard of Korea before then? Whether they heard of it or not, every male above eighteen was called to serve in the military. There were no choices. In the days of the dreaded draft, very few young men escaped the call of the army.
Even Elvis Presley had to learn the names of those countries and where they were, as he signed into the army as Private Elvis Presley. We all knew the names of those countries by then. They were in every news headline.
By the time the Korean conflict erupted I had lost touch with many of my classmates. Including the boy in my history class. I sometimes think of those days and wonder what became of him. Was he one of those clueless young guys who suddenly discovered that his life was more closely connected to those countries than he ever could have imagined?
I don’t know whether he was against learning, against having to study subjects he deemed unnecessary, or whether he was a conscientious objector. I do know he lived at a time when individual opinions were not considered; no one was given the choice of whether to fight or not to fight. Soldiers were not given tests to determine their knowledge of far eastern countries.
What does this subject have to do with today’s situation? Teachers reading this post, may consider getting similar rebellious answers when studying the moon’s topography.
Just assure any questioning students that “You never know what facts of which places you might need to know in the future.”