When Animals are Drafted

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When Animals are Drafted

[Ed. Note: Please also read War Horses – The Engines of Battle.]

From Zoe: It's Our Nature
May 2010

For 5,000 years, starting with simple chariots drawn by oxen in Mesopotamia, animals of all kinds have been conscripted into our wars. From charging elephants to bomb-sniffing bees, we’ve used them in every imaginable way.

For 5,000 years they’ve been fighting our wars with us

When Navy SEALS choppered into Osama bin Laden’s backyard and took out the notorious terrorist, a German shepherd, kitted out with an infrared camera on his head and weapon-style titanium teeth in his mouth, went with them. The dog, unnamed for security reasons, was honored at private ceremonies on his return.

For 5,000 years, starting with simple chariots drawn by oxen in Mesopotamia, animals of all kinds have been conscripted into our wars. From charging elephants to bomb-sniffing bees, we’ve used them in every imaginable way.

In return, we honor them as heroes and award them with medals. But they never go as volunteers; always as conscripts.

Theirs is not to reason why; rather just to do or die. They know nothing of our politics, disagreements or international disputes. They have no idea why they’re doing it, but they serve, mostly but not always willingly, often dying in the process.

On this Memorial Day week in 2011, we take a look at the animals of war: fighting by our side, left behind when we deploy, rescued by brave and kindhearted solders, working as therapy animals, recovering from PTSD, and so many other ways they participate in our battles with each other.

On this coming Memorial Day, let’s remember them, too.