George W. Bush was in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam hostilities.

We all know that.

He was lucky because he didn't have to go anywhere.

What a difference a war makes. What if he were in the Air National Guard today?

"Lieutenant Bush."


"Your orders just came in. We're sending you to Iraq."

"Wait a minute. I joined the National Guard so I wouldn't be sent to Iraq."

"The Pentagon has ordered all Air National Guard units to go. They're short of fliers over there."

"Check the records. I never showed up for my physical, so I can't fly."

"Don't worry, lieutenant. We'll give you your flight medical exam as soon as you reach Baghdad."

"But I was planning on spending all my enlistment attending Harvard."

"We're calling up all our reserve units, and I promise you they will not be sent to Harvard."

"I'm going to call my daddy. He assured me if I signed up I would remain stateside in Alabama."

"Ordinarily we let someone use his influence to keep him here, but we are at war against a deadly enemy, and we need every man we can get."

"But I have a family."

"Everyone in the National Guard has a family. It's no excuse."

"I can't see well."

"Come on, lieutenant, stop faking it. We're only sending you for a year, unless the picture gets worse. Then we can't guarantee when you will come home. But think of the role you will be playing bringing democracy to a country ruled by a vicious dictator."

"I have flat feet."

"Go to the quartermaster and get a new parachute."

"This sounds serious. Are you sure the reason I'm being sent over isn't political? I know my CO is a Democrat."

"This has nothing to do with politics. You have to go over there because otherwise they're going to come over here. We spent a million dollars to train you to become a pilot. The country wants its money back."

"It is so unfair that a National Guard unit should be sent overseas."

"The good side is that you'll get flight pay while you're in Iraq."

"Who do I appeal to so I can stay home?"

"Son, you're a good Texan and a good American. If you refuse to go, people will think you're a chicken hawk. Someday you may become president of the United States. Do you want it on your record that you couldn't be found when your squadron went to war?"

"I'll hide."

"You are going to Iraq to drop bombs on insurgents and strafe their bunkers as you were trained to do."

"I'll do that if I don't get hurt. Can I have six months to get all my affairs in order?"

"Your orders say now."

"If it's all the same to you, sir, I would rather be in Philadelphia."

(c) 2004 Tribune Media Services