Okay now, here’s a quiz. Identify the following individuals: 1) Lt. William Calley; 2) Lt. John Bobo; 3) Lynndie England; and 4) Paul Ray Smith. I am guessing that individuals 1 and 3 are better known than 2 and 4. To learn the answers to the quiz and why 1 and 3 are better known than 2 and 4, look here.
In this piece, I argue that Americans have forgotten how to honor its heroes. I trace the problem to Vietnam. Although Americans fought bravely there, the press, if not the American people, began to treat those who fought in Vietnam as either moral monsters, victims, or both. The dysfunctional Vietnam vet became a staple of popular culture.
The conventional wisdom concerning Vietnam has been absorbed by today’s press, even by those too young to remember our Southeast Asia misadventure. The result is that, despite the mantra of "support the troops," there is a troubling predisposition to believe the worst about those who are willing to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan.
My piece, republished here from the current issue of The Weekly Standard is a review essay of three books about the soldiers and Marines who are fighting the war. As Bing West wrote in his riveting book about Falluja, No True Glory, stories of soldierly courage deserve "to be recorded and read by the next generation. Unsung, the noblest deed will die."