Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

True heroes

Okay, unlike many of my peers, I'm a sucker for soldiers -- perhaps because my father was a soldier. I've always been awed by their bravery in circumstances that give me waking nightmares. I therefore really enjoyed and appreciated this article in which the authors laud American soldiers and chide the American press for consistently presenting them in the most negative light:

On a rooftop fight in Fallujah last year, Lance Corporal Carlos Gomez-Perez hurled grenades and manned a machine gun to drive back a band of insurgents. Once the roof was cleared, he walked downstairs, pouring blood. An RPG had torn a chunk the size of a Coke can out of his shoulder. "Sorry, sir," he mumbled to his lieutenant. "Mind if I take a break to get this patched up?" The public image of the military is shaped by the press. No matter how laudatory the actions of a soldier, if the press ignores them, the public is not aware of them. Today's battlefield elites are given scant focus by media elites. On Monday, Sgt 1st Class Paul Ray Smith was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award, with little fanfare and media coverage that burned out in 24 hours. So whom are we celebrating? In World War II, the press were cheerleaders who shared a symbiotic relationship with the military. Gutsy warriors like Audie Murphy and "Pappy" Boyington were famous for their high kill totals. In Vietnam, the press soured on the effort, tied the troops to the policymakers and refused to laud aggressive soldiers. Instead, victims were accentuated. American prisoners of war — who were certainly brave — were the only acclaimed heroes. Rugged commando-types — just as brave — were ignored.
I was going to end this post by asking rhetorically, "Will the Vietnam War never go away?" It's occurred to me, however, that I don't have to leave this as a rhetorical question, but can actually provide an answer. No, the Vietnam War will not go away in this lifetime. The Vietnam generation has to die out. Just as Moses had to have the Israelites wander in the desert for 40 years so that a new generation would grow to adulthood without the slave mentality of the escapees from Egypt, so too do we have to wait for the coming of the next generation -- a generation that can escape from the intellectual darkness the Vietnam War created in parts of America.