W. AutryAugust 29 2011
General William C. Lee In Uniform
The term heroes is mostly semantics. And, I think there is some histrionics in the idea that there is a “cult of the uniform” as the Sunday “Times” article, “An Empty Regard” suggests. I think there is another explanation why the majority of Americams express appreciation of the military.
Americans who care-and not all do-have somehow in their psyche decided that they are never again going to treat soldiers as badly as they did Vietnam vets. We vets have our own emotional well being still tied up with that awful treatment. We not only fought in Vietnam but had another battle at home. And, those battles have persisted through recognition on health issues like Agent Orange and PTSD. For a good ten years or more, Vietnam vets were basically silent. The literature coming from us was scant and even the movies that showed up only reinforced what most Americans thought: crazed Vietnam vets who are whack jobs.
But, something weird has really happened with the military which we are yet to face. And, this is more significant than attempting to define heroism. Our soldiers today are Facebook/tweeter soldiers. They are aware, media savvy, and they are not going to be like Vietnam vets-sit back and wait. They are already there, demanding that the government and VA live up to its promises.
We can apply any term—heroes is as good as any. Many soldiers are serving multiple tours; families are barely scraping by and the soldier themselves are engaged in a warfare that is lethal: deadly outposts; a strategy that, if workable, in nation building would take years; a populace that is ambivalent, not through lack of desire but unable in taking charge of their own destiny once we’re gone. The present soldier has done every single thing that has been asked of him and more. If that isn’t heroism, I don’t know what is.
On An Empty Regard(opinion piece)
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