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Old Enough To Serve But Not To Drink

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I read a letter that appeared over the weekend in the Buffalo News from a man who attended a Sabres game a few weeks back with his 20-year old son home on leave from the Marines. Before the game they went to a bar near the arena and the man ordered two beers for himself but was told he could only be served one because his son is under 21. And they were further told that his son could not even sit at the bar because he’s underage.

It’s the long-time complaint that if a young man is old enough to serve his country he should be old enough to be served a beer. It seems in this case they were treated rudely, but the bartender was only abiding by the law. The bartender was doing what she had to do to legally protect herself and the bar. Perhaps she could have tried to empathize with them and offer them something from the menu – an appetizer or something on the house – but she certainly wasn’t obligated to.

So it brings up the question – should soldiers under the age of 21 be treated differently from civilians? Should they be given some special consideration – some kind of military pass – if they feel inclined to have a beer? I think most people might agree, but doesn’t that open up a can of worms? How about volunteer firefighters under the age of 21? They risk their lives going into burning buildings. Should they be given special consideration too? How about young people who join the Peace Corps and represent the United States helping people around the world? Should they be given special consideration?

So let’s suppose we do decide that young soldiers should be given special consideration and they are allowed to buy alcohol. What’s to prevent him from buying a keg of beer when he gets together with his underage civilian buddies? He’d be violating the same laws his father was criticizing that bartender for obeying.

What do you think? Is there a simple way to solve this problem?

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