Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Richard G. Lugar

United States Senator for Indiana (R)

Dear Senator Lugar,

I would like to briefly introduce myself and also inform you of the purpose for my writing. My name is Dante Rau and I am currently a junior at Wabash College. I am originally from the East Coast, but have traveled a goodly distance to complete my college experience here, in the Mid-West. As a student at a liberal-arts institution, I am required by the school to take a number of English classes; the ultimate purpose being a broader perspective of education. In my most recent scholastic endeavor, I completed the reading of Voltaire’s epic satire, Candide. Throughout the story, I was able to identify Voltaire’s sympathetic feelings toward the violation of one’s human rights; an issue I have also grown to feel strongly about. During my research on this topic, I found that there are numerous cases throughout the world where people’s basic human rights are being violated on a daily basis. The most appalling instance I found comes in the form of children soldiers. It is estimated that there are over 250,000 child soldiers fighting in the world today; yes, I know, quite a scary thought. These children are the future of this world and their military involvement needs to be stopped immediately. In this letter I will outline a number of strategies that our government could use in order to improve this horrible situation. As I am just a college student, my word is not as powerful as yours, but with your help I feel that together we might be able to put an end to child soldiers everywhere.

It is a known fact that the United States sends copious military support to ten countries that exploit children as soldiers. This statistic is rather frightening to me because in this country we continuously preach against child involvement in military conflict, as is obvious in our draft laws, but then turn around and support child soldiers elsewhere in the world. Should our principles not hold true in foreign affairs? Or should we throw them by the wayside in hopes of making marginal economic gains off these already impoverished countries? If we were able to stop or even slow the U.S. military support to these countries, I believe our cause would be headed in the right direction.

Another strategy that I believe would be beneficial to our cause is an increase in the media attention on child soldiers. If we were able to have a camera crew capture the atrocities that these children are put through, I believe we will be able to drum up increased support to end the children’s’ involvement in warfare. Today, males as young as eight years old are serving in militias in such countries as Colombia, Sudan, and Uganda; all countries that are currently experiencing violent interior conflicts. Boys are not alone in military service though, as young girls often serve as “sex slaves” to the corrupted military commanders of these countries. With an increase in media attention in these areas, we would be able to bring these horrifying realities to light and put them in the face of the general public.

I am hopeful that this issue touches you as deeply as it does me, because I cannot complete this task without your help. With our combined effort, I believe we can put an end to child soldiers everywhere and make the world a safer and better place for children to live. Please consider my request and reply as soon as you are able. Thank you for your time.


Dante Rau

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