The 0.45% T-Shirt. (link to t-shirt and story)
How can a person not appreciate the sacrifice so few people are willing to take in defense of their country? Why would anyone discount the validity and honor in a person (or the act itself) wanting to fight for their country? The story about such questions that goes along with this t-shirt at Ranger Up by Nick Palmisciano really struck a chord in me and many other Army wives I know.
Last night a friend posted this picture on Face Book and I thought (as I still do) that it and the story behind the t-shirt had a very strong message; so I shared it on my wall. A few of my friends re-posted it and I read some of the responses they got on it. They were not negative comments, but more; yeah that is nice, but…
The comments (which were made by some nice guys that are friends of mine) invoked a question to the impact the percentages shown should really have on the subject of the amount of Americans having served during different era’s in the United States Military( from what I could gather). I did not see the shirt’s message that way; when I read the story by Nick, the point was not really the discrepancy in the percentages of those having served during each war, but rather what the percentage was compared to the rest of American society that did not serve. To me Nick’s point was that all those who are serving or have served were of an elite minority within each war era. That point really resonated with me.
Still the issue’s raised in the comments about the draft, the population within America and the size of the military during each war not being figured into those percentages (according the commenter) got me wondering, what about those numbers and the differences? Has time faded the idea of patriotism or the honor in serving one’s country? Are warriors no longer a symbol of the biggest civic service of self sacrifice? Does the draft create large un-patriotic military troops? My mind was spinning and in a way still is. lol
The fact that more people did not see the draft as a negative and more volunteered than were drafted in both World War II and Vietnam (I was surprised by that fact in regards to the Vietnam War), I think states that patriotism is about the same today as it was during WWII (again going back to Nick’s point of being of a few Elite). During WWII Roosevelt limited the amount of men to be drafted due to the administrations caution of creating a large military and he committed to keeping 2/3 of all U.S. jobs filled by adult men.(Murray and Millett, 2001). The American mind-set, these two polices issued during WWII and the fact the over all population was not as large as now, seems to balance out the percentages between then and now on the idea of patriotism. The book: A War To Be Won, Fighting the Second World War ,by Murray and Millett is a great read for information on WWII and the American feel at that time.
It would seem to me the lack of respect from many not associated with the military now is not as high as it was during Vietnam. Yet much of the anti-war movement during Vietnam that were in college at the time are now often found teaching in high schools and colleges passing on their biases from that era to the kids they are teaching now (not to mention the past 20yrs or so). So although most Americans look back to the Vietnam era and the treatment of Vets and active duty military as wrong and do all they can to right that wrong, unfortunately there are those out there that have a captive audience to keep up the idea there is always something better out there than serving your country.
All in all, it seems to me that even with the issue of the draft, the population at the time and the amount serving in the military within in each era, the trend of those who do serve does seem coincide with the graph on the t-shirt; wish I had taken statistics in college now.lol Curious to know the exact numbers on it now.
Reading up on this topic this afternoon has shown me that we need more American history classes and civic classes in school, for there really is more to learn than I realized. The instituting of the draft during the Civil War, WWI, WWII and Vietnam, each having some differences and were reacted to differently as well, is a world wind of information in and of itself. The ending of the draft in 1973 caused some problems and worried many at the time, but it truly has seemed to work out for the best. We can look back into history and try to figure out what is the need for Civilian soldiers, what is American pride and how can we as Americans express that pride? As an American and a parent I take those issues seriously and hope I can teach my kids not to be afraid to express that pride by joining the military or by supporting the military. From the Revolutionary War through today I can show my kids some awesome examples. For me though the fact that such a small percentage of Americans have stood up and fought valiantly gives me a great sense of pride and hope in America. This elite few and the Americans who have supported them are an enormous part of what
makes America great; the land of free and the home of the brave.
Here are some of the sites I visited if you want to form an answer for yourself. I also have a couple of books here at home that I re read parts of; I think they are listed under books I read.