A U.S. Army Captain recently penned a small but thought-provoking piece in Tom Rick’s Blog: The Best Defense (FP). Captain Hardy’s Blog discussed the newly inherited “off-limits” and “separate class” status of soldiers and Veterans as it relates to the current shutdown crisis our government finds itself in. It got me thinking, are soldiers “special”, have we placed ourselves in a separate class from American civilian society on purpose, or were we placed there? What is a modern soldier’s place in the State, what is the place of Veterans? And finally what the hell is going on at the WWII Memorial?
Captain Hardy poses many interesting arguments in concern to our military’s current place in civilian society as well as the recent goings-on at the WWII Memorial ; most I wholly agree with, a few I do not.
I agree with the Captain’s assessment that our modern military has been placed unfairly upon an unrealistic and ridiculously high pedestal, and I think the Captain is dead right when he says that the placement upon this pedestal is a “slippery slope”…it is. However, I disagree with the Captain’s opinion that we have placed ourselves in this status…we have not “self-separated” ourselves; it has been done to us.
Our new “separate class” and politically “off limits” status is the direct result of an all-volunteer force. We have been forcefully separated by the 99% of our civilian population who rightfully feels a tremendous amount of guilt for having ridden the bench during these last ten years of war. This is their way of making it all ok, and who can blame them, after all, they were never asked to give anything.…they are constantly delivering their reverence..and we let them…we take what kindness we can get. They recognize us at football games, build our wounded homes, send us “care packages”. If there had been broad involvement in this ten year war, perhaps our military wouldn’t be forced by our guilty civilian masters to teeter on this unbelievably high pedestal, from which we will surely plummet.
I would also suggest that it is not the entire military and definitely not the entire population of America’s Veterans that has been placed in this separate class of warrior, removed from the orderly laws of our nation. You see, some Veterans are not seen in this way. The Iraq and Afghanistan War Vets are, because we are 1%, and that shameful number, in itself, is a debt we are owed by civilians. WWII Vets are, because they fought in a war that was supported and participated in, en mass…they are the “Greatest Generation”…they defeated the Nazis. But are the Vets that fought in Vietnam seen and revered in this way? I think not. Would this group of Vets be allowed to skirt the laws of our nation? Are they a “separate class”, “off limits”? No.
So what the hell is going on at the WWII Memorial in our nation’s capital, and what can it teach us about the current place of the soldier within the state? Should the “good” Vets from the “Greatest Generation” get a break? Would our civilian masters be as forgiving if a bunch of middle aged Vietnam Veterans stormed the Vietnam Memorial aided by bands of Harley driving Vet groups? Something tells me probably not, you see they have and never will be politically “off limits”. Perhaps this is because they were drafted, all were vulnerable to being called up, thus they were and remain not a “separate class”..they were and are our nation. To be fair, WWII Vets were also drafted, so this is where my argument loses steam, and I remain confused. Personally I think that the WWII Vets are getting a break and allowed to slip through the barricades in their wheelchairs, simply because they are old…they pose no threat. I guess I might not know exactly what is going on at the WWII Memorial, but something defiantly is, and it is a lot more than just some barricades and a “shutdown”.
In any case, I know that the Captain and myself can agree that the events at the WWII Memorial are shameful, it is shameful that politicians of both parties would show up for photo ops, it is shameful that barricades were placed around the outdoor memorials that get a lot of visitation, but not around ones that do not, it is shameful that some Vets are deemed heroes, and some are not, it is shameful that the 99%, from whom nothing was demanded has, out of a massive amount of guilt, placed my generation of Vets in a “separate class”. They have sadly deemed us not subject to the orderly laws and rules of our nation, politically “off limits” to the consequences of the government “shutdown”. They have placed us upon a pedestal so high and so lofty we will surely never be able to maintain its height…and we have shamefully let them do it.