September 6, 2004: Headlines: Sixties: National Service: Army: Hippies: Humor: Speaking Out: Jerusuleum Post: Aging Hippy Philippines RPCV Carl Hoffman confronts an army-bound son

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Speaking Out: January 23, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Speaking Out (1 of 5) : Peace Corps: Speaking Out: September 6, 2004: Headlines: Sixties: National Service: Army: Hippies: Humor: Speaking Out: Jerusuleum Post: Aging Hippy Philippines RPCV Carl Hoffman confronts an army-bound son

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 6:34 pm: Edit Post

Aging Hippy Philippines RPCV Carl Hoffman confronts an army-bound son

Aging Hippy Philippines RPCV Carl Hoffman confronts an army-bound son

Aging Hippy Philippines RPCV Carl Hoffman confronts an army-bound son

Fathers and Sons

An aging hippy confronts an army-bound son

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself awake and wired at 3:00 am, sitting alone at the dining room table, over a cup of black coffee that I barely touched, staring at the silent walls and wondering what the hell to do.

Earlier that day, my son Daniel went off to take his medical exam for the IDF. That's right, my son, who was the most beautiful baby his pediatrician had ever seen, who was so cute people used to stop us on the street to admire him, who was always the first person to welcome me home from work, who used to build spectacular castles with Legos, who became addicted to Tin Tin and Asterix books at age 8, who adapted to Israel in what seemed like minutes, who reads voraciously and is breathtakingly artistic, will be entering the IDF in a little over a year.

We've been talking about what sort of military service he should try to perform. Or rather I've been talking; he has been scowling and rolling his eyes in exasperation.

I have been telling him things like, "I want you out of harm's way, in the rear with the gear, serving soup or being a supply clerk." He tells me in the manner one would assume when talking to a senile old man, "Dad, do you think I would ever want to do my IDF service like that?"

And then he turns another four or five of my hairs gray by telling me, "I want to be a sniper/a commando/a paratrooper/a navy seal."

HOW did I produce a son like this? What atavistic genes, from some distant and long-forgotten generation of Hoffmans, did I carry and pass on to this young man?

They certainly missed me: at his age, hair down to my butt, incense burning, Grateful Dead music blaring, and flowers everywhere, I used to wonder what I was going to do if President Nixon woke up one morning and decided to send me to Vietnam. My eventual receipt of a high draft lottery number, which meant I would be studying anthropology at NYU instead of running night patrols in the Mekong delta, was duly celebrated for several days and nights.

Yes, I know: it was a different sort of war. My son is being asked to defend his country and the Jewish people against real enemies who threaten our very survival. I was being asked to attack people half a world away, who posed a threat primarily to Mobile Oil and Coca-Cola. Still, I will wonder for the rest of my life just what sort of soldier I would have made had I been 18 years old in Ra'anana instead of Boston.

As I sat at the dining room table through that long night, it occurred to me that my family has had this sort of weird father/son thing going on for generations. I recall getting ready to depart for two years of anthropology field work in Borneo and having my father tell me, "Borneo, shmorneo! Stay here. You want to do fieldwork? What's wrong with American Indians?"

I listened politely and went to Borneo. A couple of years later, on my way into the Peace Corps, I again listened politely and went to the Philippines.

Not long after the attack on Pearl Harbor, my father heard his father tell him, "I don't care if we're at war. You're only 17, and that's too young to join the army." My father listened politely and went off to war.

And when his father, at age 15, decided to leave the Ukraine for America, his father told him, "America, shmerica! Stay here." My grandfather listened politely and caught the next boat out of Odessa. For all I know, this is a drama that has been played, in one form or another, for generations beyond number of fathers and sons in my family, through every turn of our people s history - "Don't go to the Ukraine, stay here in Poland." "Don t go to Poland, stay here in Germany. Stay here in the Rhineland/in Rome/in Alexandria/in Judea."

AND yet, as I stared dolefully into the depths of my untouched cup of coffee, it dawned on me that every recent twist of our family's father/son conundrum has turned out, more or less, for the best. I got a PhD out of my voyage to Borneo, as well as a lovely wife and two beautiful children in the Philippines. My father helped General MacArthur defeat the Japanese - or so he told me at bedtime throughout my early childhood. My grandfather got to raise a family peacefully in Boston instead of in the Ukraine.

So, here we go again. I will proffer my sage advice; my son will listen politely and do whatever he wants. Daniel, and the IDF will decide where he belongs and what he will do. And during the three years of Daniel's active service in the IDF, I expect to be more or less constantly nervous, hopeful against hope for his safety - and very, very proud of him.

When this story was posted in September 2004, here was the front page of PCOL Magazine:

Director Gaddi Vasquez: The PCOL Interview Director Gaddi Vasquez: The PCOL Interview
This month we sat down for an extended interview with Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez. Read the entire interview from start to finish and we promise you will learn something about the Peace Corps you didn't know before.

Then read the questions and answers one by one and leave your comments on the issues raised during the interview including Infrastructure Upgrades and the new Situation Room at Headquarters, Is there a Budget Crunch this year at Peace Corps, Peace Corps' Long Term Expansion, the Changes to the Five-Year Rule made last year, Safety and Security Issues, the Cooperative Agreement with NPCA, RPCVs in Policy Making Positions at Peace Corps Headquarters, Peace Corps' Departure from Russia in 2002, Director Vasquez's Accomplishments as Director, the Peace Corps Safety and Security Bill before Congress, Continuity at the Agency during Changes in Administration, the Community College Program, and the Director's Message to the Returned Volunteer Community.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

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Story Source: Jerusuleum Post

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Sixties; National Service; Army; Hippies; Humor; Speaking Out



By tintin ( - on Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - 5:47 am: Edit Post

hi, may i know how to contact mr. carl hoffman? thanks

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