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Baylee Vario

Music 1040
Culture Semester Project
I chose to research the Military culture. The person interviewed is named Melanie
Jackson. She joined the military in search of a way to pay for her Nursing degree. She
enlisted to the Army National Guard at just 19 years old. She had already completed
one year of college so she was able to enlist at a slightly higher level than most of the
soldiers her age. She started as an E3, also called a Specialist, instead of the standard
E1, or Private. She went to Alabama for basic training in August of 1988. After basic she
went to AIT (advanced individual training) at Ft. Sam in Houston, Texas. Her MOS
(military occupational specialty) was 91-B or Combat Medic. Once that was completed,
her MOS changed to 91-C which was Licensed Practicing Nurse. She was lucky
enough to be sent home to Utah to continue her education. In fact, she attended the
LPN program at Salt Lake Community College. The military paid for everything,
including housing, food, and education. She was deployed to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in
1991. She and 350 other people built a fully functioning, 400 bed hospital that was as
big as the University of Utah Hospital. It was made out of tents, just like the movie
MASH, and they did it in two weeks. It had heating and air, electricity, ICU, ER, OR, and
Med/Surg. She was there for about 4 months before she came home in May. She later
went to Weber State to become a Registered Nurse. Most of her education was
covered by the G.I. bill, a law that provides a range of benefits for military members
(Education). Her experiences in basic, AIT, and Desert Storm will be discussed in
depth later.

There were many social issues in the army during the time Melanie was enlisted,
just as there are now and there were decades ago. These social issues include race,
class, gender, and other social issues such as homosexuality. Melanie didnt have much
to say about racial issues in the army. She said there seemed to be more white people
than any other race. There were also Blacks and Hispanics. There was no racism and
everyone was treated the same, as far as she knew. The only thing she could
remember regarding racism was slightly unexpected. Because of her higher rank,
Melanie was a squad leader. She had to keep track of and control all of the women in
her squad. Whenever she found herself having to discipline the black women, they
would pull the race card, meaning they would accuse her of singling them out because
of their race (Jackson). That was not the case at all, according to Melanie. She was
simply trying to keep her squad in line. She said, I didnt care if they were purple or
green. I just wanted them to do what they were supposed to in order to keep us both
from getting punished (Jackson).
Social classes are very prominent in the army, they are called ranks. It is
essential for soldiers to know their place, as well as who they answer to and who should
get what amount of honor and respect. This is all determined by a soldiers rank. There
are two main types of class ranks: Non-commissioned Officer (NCO) and
Commissioned Officer (Officer). NCOs are soldiers who were enlisted in the army and
Officers are those who have earned degrees. Officers are the only ones who are
saluted. Melanie states, if you solute an NCO they are offended. Theyll yell at you,
Dont solute me. I actually work! I earn my money!(Jackson). There are also subclasses or ranks within the two main ranks. As for the NCO, there are ranks E1-E9.

Some of those include, Private, Private First Class, Specialist, Sargent, and so on. The
Officers class ranks are First Lieutenant, Second Lieutenant, Captain, Major,
Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel, and General 1 star through General 4 star. There is always
room for advancement in the army, and the higher the class, the higher the pay. This
motivates the soldiers to work hard to earn their next rank.
In the every-day life of an American, being part of the military also puts you in a
social class of your own. If 180 active duty hours are served, a soldier officially becomes
a Veteran. Most Americans have a great amount of respect for Veterans and all
members of the military. Most have gratitude for everything those men and women do
and have done in the past for their country. A majority of restaurants and stores offer
Military discounts. There are both sacrifices and benefits of joining the military; one of
the benefits is earning respect from the everyday citizens.
One of the prominent social issues involving the army is the issue of gender. In
the media, we hear about rape of soldiers and citizens by military members. However,
Melanie did not witness any of that during the time she was in the army. This may have
been because she wasnt in training and away from her family for a long period of time.
Some of the rape and things like that may happen more on the battle field when men
and women have been away from their spouses and loved ones for several months or
even years. She also said that the medical field seems to treat men and women equally
and that may not be the case in different specialties.
There were some definite gender differences, though. For example, men and
women were segregated during basic training and most of the drill sergeants and high

ranked officers were men. Some drill sergeants had sexual relations with the women
soldiers which was considered inappropriate under the circumstances. The women
were not treated as harshly as the men in basic training. There was not as much namecalling and yelling in faces, as there was with the men. Melanie says it seemed that the
women were able to accept their role as a subordinate soldier more easily than the
men. They were able to grasp that they were the ones who put themselves there and
they had to get through it. They seemed to have more mental toughness. The men, on
the other hand, had more pride. They had to be broken down more before they could be
built back up. The women were allowed to have any length of hair as long as it was
pulled up. No hair was allowed past the collar of their uniform. The women were not
allowed to wear make-up in basic training. Men and women were required to wear dress
clothes when traveling. Men wore dress suits and women wore long, black skirts.
The majority of other social issues Melanie encountered were in AIT. Basic
training was so intense and structured that there just wasnt much time to focus on
anything else. They were told what, when, and how to think and act. One incident in AIT
she remembers involved a woman well call T. Melanie had garbage duty with T so
every night they would take the garbage out then they would return to their bed for bed
check. She began to notice that after bed check T would sneak out of her bed to go and
shower. So one day, while taking the garbage out, Melanie asked T why she felt the
need to sneak around instead of showering with everyone else. She told Melanie that
she was gay and did not want to make the other women feel uncomfortable by
showering with them in community showers. Melanie remembers the look of relief on

Ts face when she was finally able to talk to someone about being gay. She smiled and
asked, Do you want to see a picture of my girlfriend? (Jackson).
Many things have changed within the U.S. Military throughout the years. A
comparison can be made between the military around the time of WWI and WWII, the
1990s military (when Melanie was enlisted), and the military today. One thing that has
drastically changed is the enlistment of women in the army. Women werent allowed to
join the military until the last two years of WWI, 1917-1918. At that time, 33,000 women
served in the military as nurses and support staff (The U.S.). Then, in 1948 congress
passed the Womens Armed Services Integration Act which granted women
permanent status in the military and entitled them to veterans benefits (The U.S.). In
1950, two years after the law passed, 50,000 women served in the Korean War. Since
then, there has not been as many women enlisted in the military. This may have been
due to the size of the wars; during the World Wars, the military needed all the help they
could get. Now we have many men and women who are more than willing to enlist and
the demand for soldiers is not as great. Currently 16,000 women are serving in Iraq,
Afghanistan, Bosnia, Germany, Japan, and other related areas (The U.S.).
Another pattern that has changed over time are the military's views on
homosexuality. There is a lot of recorded history dealing with homosexuality and the
military, but it will only be discussed briefly within this paper. From 1778, when the first
Lieutenant was kicked out of the army for sodomy charges, to now the military has not
been fully accepting of gay individuals. The U.S. Naval Institute tells us that in 1942,
Military psychiatrists warn that 'psychopathic personality disorders' make homosexual
individuals unfit to fight. The military issues the first formal regulations to list

homosexuality as an excludable characteristic. Those in the military identified as


homosexuals can be discharged and denied veterans benefits" (USNI). A few years
after Melanie enlisted in 1993, "After failing to overcome opposition to allowing gays to
serve openly in the military, President Clinton signs into law the current policy known as
'Dont Ask, Dont Tell'" (USNI). In December 2010 President Barrack Obama signs a
repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law (USNI). Although, according to Melanie, T did
not feel endangered or oppressed because of her sexuality, she did struggle with being
gay in the military. Gays are still fighting for perfect equality and part of that fight
involves full acceptance within the military.
The next part of the Military culture to be discussed is music. Music has always
been associated with battle. It is used to raise the spirits and adrenaline levels of those
preparing to fight. Music can be motivational and moving. It was also used to keep
African-Americans in rhythm when working as slaves. The military uses music for these
same concepts. The U.S. army website tells us, "From the signal corps drummers in the
Revolutionary War, to the full brass bands of WWII, music has been a critical part of the
Army's success; Whether it's a ceremonial performance or a concert to boost the
morale of Soldiers..."(About). There has been record of marching songs and battle
songs for the U.S. military dating back to the 1700's. Even now, the soldiers learn
cadences to keep them in beat when marching. Melanie remembers a cadence called
"The Yellow Bird" that went as follows, "A yellow bird, with a yellow bill, sat up upon, my
windowsill, I lured him in, with a piece of bread, and then I smashed, his yellow head"
(Yellow). Today the army has their own musical band that performs for deployed troops,
citizens, and even the President (About).

The music selection featured in this paper is called Mosh by Eminem. It was
released in 2004 as a protest against President Bush and his decision to send more
troops to war. It addresses the war that Melanie fought in, The Gulf War, and the war
that we are currently in, Iraq. The beginning of the song has children saying the Pledge
of Allegiance. It also addresses the social issues that are caused when going to war.
Not everyone agrees with the wars that we, as America, are currently in and the wars
we have fought in in the past. Eminem says, "Mosh pits outside the Oval Office,
someone's trying to tell us something maybe this is God just saying we're responsible,
for this monster. This coward that we have empowered, this is Bin Laden. Look at his
head nodding - how could, we allow something like this without, pumping our fist now"
(Mathers). He goes on to say, "Maybe we can reach Al-Qaeda through my speech. Let
the President answer a higher anarchy. Strap him with an AK-47, let him go fight his
own war, let him impress daddy that way. No more blood for oil, we got our own battles
to fight on our own soil" (Mathers). These lyrics are very powerful. They show the
opinions that many people had about the Gulf War and the war we are currently
involved in. "Let him impress daddy" is a direct insult to President Bush Jr. whose father
served as the President before him. Eminem shows his blunt disrespect by saying,
"F*ck Bush" later in this song (Mathers). He targets the President even further when he
says, "Look in his eyes it's all lies, the stars and stripes have been swiped, washed out
and wiped and replaced with his own face, mosh now or die. If I get sniped tonight,
you'll know why cause I told you to fight!" (Mathers). The song concludes with the
following lyrics,

And as we procede, to mosh through this Desert Storm ...


Let us beg to differ as we set aside our differences,
and assemble our own army to disarm,
THIS weapon of mass destruction that we call our President,
for the present and mosh for the future of our next generation
to speak, and be heard,
Mr. President! (Mathers).
In conclusion, the military has a culture of its own with social issues including
race, class, gender, and homosexuality. Exploration of these issues were made
possible through Melanie's interview of recounts from when she was in basic, AIT, and
Desert Storm. Music is directly involved with the Military culture. It has also changed in
many ways throughout the years but remains prominent in the army. There have been
multiple songs written about war and even The Gulf War specifically. One of those
songs was Mosh by Eminem. He used the lyrics in that song to express his views and
the views of many other people at the time. Some of those views were extremely
negative and directed at President Bush, who was commonly blamed for involving
America in the Gulf War.

Works Cited
"About Army Music." Goarmy.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.
"Education and Training." Home. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. 29
Oct. 2014.
Jackson, Melanie B. "Military Culture." Personal interview. 29 Oct. 2014.
Mathers, Marshall. "Eminem Mosh." Genius. 2014 Genius Media Group Inc., n.d.
Web. 30 Oct. 2014.
"The U.S. Military Index." Foreign Policy No. 165 (2008): 70-77. Women's Roles in
the Military Timeline. Web. 29 Oct. 2014.
"USNI Logo." Key Dates in US Policy on Gay Men and Women in Military Service.
2014 US NAVAL INSTITUTE, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.
"Yellow Bird #2." (ArmyStudyGuide.com). 1999 - 2014 QuinStreet, Inc, n.d. Web.
30 Oct. 2014.