It seems as if the entire American identity is wrapped in the admirable shroud of World War II. Every military involvement is compared with it, every aspect of American pride derives from it, and every criticism of American foreign policy is refuted with it. It is as if World War II alone was sufficient to place the United States in a state of permanent nobility and, thus, burden her with unspeakable noblesse oblige that began with the Cold War and is now ending with the New World Order.
But this is a grand delusion that is eroding every vital fiber of American society. To expose the delusion, one only needs to compare the horrible fate that meets current American soldiers with the fate of WW II veterans to realize how far the US worldview has deteriorated since World War II. WW II veterans returned to heroes’ welcome, received economic help upon their return, and prospered in the economic boom that resulted from Europe’s destruction.
Since WW II, however, soldiers return to pathetic economic conditions, receive little or no help from the government that conscripted them, and struggle in a competitive economy that is quickly losing ground to resurgent Europe and East Asia. From the dreadful conditions that visited Vietnam veterans (as documented by Oliver Stone and countless others) to the recent scandals at the Walter Reed hospital, the only conclusion supported by the evidence is that the American soldier is not the honorable person he (or she) used to be.
If that were not enough, the above article cites new evidence that the unusual suffering of the soldiers’ families is not relieved in any way by the military, either. The data are fresh, and the military may yet act, but given the military’s inaction in the face of grave problems in the past, the children of soldiers serving in Iraq may continue to suffer inordinately high rates of abuse and neglect until a crisis shames the miliatry into action.
WW II soldiers were heroes, and veterans of all the subsequent wars slaves, in comparison.