October 18, 2005


In small towns, military values a big draw (Patrik Jonsson, 10/19/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

With his 4.0 GPA and encyclopedic memory, Ryan Wyndham stands a good chance of someday getting out of St. Stephen, a rickety, impoverished town jammed between Lake Moultrie and Hell Hole Swamp.

This square-jawed member of the Timberland High School JROTC has not only his own future on his mind, but also his country's. At a time when small towns across the country are taking a disproportionate share of casualties, Mr. Wyndham, as with many of his peers, is only feeling more resolved to join the Army.

"In a small town, you simply have a deeper relationship to the people you're defending," he says. "When you're getting shot at, they become your reason for being there."

As the military faces recruitment criticisms and challenges, one bright spot for recruiters is that many potential enlistees in small towns like St. Stephen still reveal a pragmatic patriotism and a deep tie to a community's military history. And they feel responsible to honor past Americans who laid down their lives for flag and country, whether in Vietnam or World War II.

Today, "the only thing that makes [recruiting] easier for the military is when there are communities that have traditions promoting military service," says Loren Thompson, a military affairs expert at the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va.

That increasing gulf between Blue America and the military can hardly be a good thing for the former.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 18, 2005 10:33 PM

The suicidal tendency is fully ingrained
in this boy. No different than WWI/WWII
cannon fodder.

"When you're getting shot at, they become your reason for being there."

That is the most contrived notion of
national defense I've ever seen.
This country has never improved after a great
"patriotic" war? What's different this time?

Posted by: J.H. at October 19, 2005 10:00 AM

Well, JH's use of Great Patriotic War -- communist for WWII -- is a dead giveaway, but the point is wrong anyway. All of our wars have improved us.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 19, 2005 10:52 AM

None have improved us, but only one was patriotic.

Posted by: oj at October 19, 2005 11:33 AM

I suppose J.H. considers the European approach, of appeasement and depending on the sacrifice of other nations for protection, is less suicidal. We'll see which polities are still around in 50 years.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at October 19, 2005 11:43 AM

Excuse me, J.H., but my father is one of those "WWII cannon fodder" you seem to be so contemptuous of. His division liberated a concentration camp. I daresay he did more for the cause of human freedom in one day than the likes of you in a whole lifetime.

Posted by: Mike Morley at October 19, 2005 12:55 PM

It will take us another generation or so to be rid of the rot left over from the Vietnam era, when treason and cowardice masqueraded as the ideal.

The change is coming. We have learned enough from the mistakes of Vietnam so that we will never again attempt to fight a war of policy with draftees or allow the Guard and reserves to be a way out of real military service.

Likewise, the events of the War on Terrorism have alerted the nation to the proposition that war is a serious business.

What we must do in the future is to preserve the distinction between military duty and other, lesser forms of public service. Dishing out meals in the soup kitchen and picking up trash along the highway may be laudable, but they do not compare with bearing the sword.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 19, 2005 1:36 PM

It's always the "square jaws" in depressed
rural towns that bear the brunt.

Read Roth's "The Plot Against America" to get
a sense of what our foreign policy makers
would think of kids like Wyndham if they
were to refuse to fight.

Posted by: J.H. at October 19, 2005 2:15 PM

They don't fight for the elites like Roth and policy makers.

Ask anyone in Red America what they think of Philip Roth.

Posted by: oj at October 19, 2005 2:21 PM

Yeah, but war won't be as he now imagines it to be. It never is for anyone. A lot of illusions are going to be shattered. Doesn't mean the war is unjust or unnecessary, but it is horrible for the grunts.

I personally find those who supported the Vietnam war, but sought every means to prevent themselves from serving in it, to be worse than the draft dodgers.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at October 19, 2005 3:43 PM

The Sci-Fi section at your local Borders is full of "alternate histories" that are better written and with a better sense of history and plausability than "The Plot Against America".

If you are going to make an "appeal to authority", you're going to have to do better than the likes of Roth.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 19, 2005 7:25 PM

He is the paragon of the Left though, his most famous work being an ode to onanism.

Posted by: oj at October 19, 2005 8:56 PM

So, J.H., how many people has Phillip Roth freed from tyrrany?

Posted by: Mike Morley at October 19, 2005 10:29 PM

Interesting how Roth's abusive and repugnant behavior towards Claire Bloom has slipped down the memory hole. Kind of like some other 'paragons' we have heard about, no?

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 19, 2005 11:55 PM