This is the big one: the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great World War, the war to end all wars, which has not worked out nearly as well as we would have liked.
I read this spring: The 3.3 million veterans who have served since September 11, 2001, “now are roughly half the size of the largest living veteran population: Those who served in the Vietnam era.”
While I knew this intellectually, it pained me to see: “As this year marks the 15th and 17th anniversaries of the onset of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…” This means that every 16-year-old born in the United States has ALWAYS lived with war, just as every 18-year-old has lived post-Columbine, the Colorado mass shooting.
Or more correctly, warlike conflicts, since the US doesn’t usually bother with such formalities involving Congress declaring war anymore. Because of the voluntary nature of the military, it is not always obvious on the home front that we’re at war, or in conflict, or whatever we call it. No war bonds or victory gardens.
And it’s a tricky thing to recognize the valor of a soldier in combat, even when one opposes the actual incursion. My long-held opposition to the wars in Vietnam and Iraq have led to some to label me in the past as unpatriotic, not “supporting our troops.” To which I said some version of “I support their right to come home in one piece.”
I’ve never understood how a bumper sticker actually translated into helping those who served in the military. Whereas helping homeless veterans, or helping those with the physical and psychological scars of battle are noble callings.
More Census stats:
“Veterans who have served since 9/11 are more diverse
“About 17 percent are women, 15.3 percent are black, and 12.1 percent are Hispanic. Almost half (47.6 percent) are still under the age of 35.
“They are an educated group. More than 46 percent have some college education and 32 percent have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. In 2016, about 612,000 post-9/11 veterans were in college.”