Saturday, July 14, 2007

the warrior but not the war

Yesterday I followed a slow minivan along NH 108, giving me ample time to ponder the bumper sticker mounted in its rear window:

Honor the Warrior
Not the War

What a change from 1968! Men returning from Vietnam were told to change out of their uniforms before leaving the airport, so they wouldn't be insulted when they went to town. Yet the Vietnam-era military was an all-American institution, thanks to the draft, which gathered up some (though far from all) of the best and the brightest of that generation.

Today's military by contrast is entirely volunteer, drawn mostly from the working class, and much smaller than the one we sent to Vietnam. That ought to the warriors easier to scorn, rather than more difficult. Yet 'I support the troops' is the trope of the day, from the left even more than from the right. It'd be nice to think that our bien-pensants have come to appreciate the qualities of valor, sacrifice, and service, but that seems unlikely, given how many university faculties refuse to allow officer training on campus.

To be sure, this handful of newly minted ensigns and second lieutenants was shown in the Harvard alumni magazine this month. Still, they had to travel across town to get their training at other universities, and they received no academic credit for it.


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