According to my notes, this Horror dates back to 1978, but it seems to get more and more interesting every year.
What the context is I don’t know. It could be referring to almost any moment in U.S. history when national spirit was high.
I knew perfectly well that what my student meant was that everyone was gung-ho. This phrase, for enthusiastic and active team spirit, comes from World War II Marine slang, an adaptation of a Chinese-language phrase. To read its interesting history you can go to a number of sites; most prominent is, of course, Wikipedia.
I don’t know when I first saw “gung-ho” written, but I heard it plenty of times, in plenty of contexts, while growing up, and I never thought it was anything but “gung-ho.”
My student, though, heard it differently. Again we have a case of alien sounds interpreted through the listener’s resident lexicon: “‘Gung’? How can that be a word? Must be ‘gun.’ Of course! Now, that makes sense!”
Alas, as a society we seem to be more and more gun ho. Snipers; drive-by shooters; Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., Pres. John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Texas Tower, Columbine, Virginia Tech, etc., mass attacks; domestic murders; police overreactions (Amadou Diallo); Gabrielle Giffords; Trayvon Martin. To this we answer: concealed handguns, assault weapons, gun-show purchases, armed vigilantes. Bills advocating weapons on campuses, in state houses, in bars, at public meetings.
Everything is gun ho for America. (About the word “ho” I will not comment, since I don’t want to offend the NRA….)
Funny mistake my student made, no?
This post is, among other things, in memoriam all those who have died as a consequence of being too close to someone who was gun ho.