The world has changed … the military and Dartmouth College

October 1, 2012

How the world has changed.  Or at least the American view of the military.

I am a member of the generation that viewed the military as an alien being.  I came of age during the Vietnam War years (curiously, the Vietnamese call that war “the American War” – perspective makes all the difference).

The September/October issue of the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine (DAM) symbolises this change: the issue is headlined “War Stories” and features 54 US military veterans in the issue – from Alan Brown (class of 1970) to Philip Back (class of 2010).  The College would not have done this if it had not perceived that the general attitude towards the military has shifted somehow:  no longer the “enemy”, an alien being, but real people.  What is responsible for this shift?  Although the US (under President George W. Bush) vigorously resisted instituting a draft, it did something else, something which may have acted as a de facto draft:  it started to force members of the National Guard to ship overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan.  People in the reserves who never expected to be “called up” were.  This meant that many tens of thousands of reservists saw combat who never expected to, not in this or any other lifetime.

So something has changed profoundly in American views towards the military, for the better I suspect.  This Dartmouth College publication is just one indication of what has been taking place for some years now.

(And yes, I am an “alumnus” of Dartmouth – I attended, although did not graduate, graduating from Cornell instead.)