Skyview High School Student Newspaper -Nampa, Id

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The Opinion Journal

354 FW/PA

354 FW/PA

Gavin Morgan, Editor-in-Chief

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America’s Veneration Blockade

Put a man in a uniform, hand him a gun, send him off to a foreign country, and an American will worship him: One of many vices of American patriotism.  However, in between slapping ribbons on the bumpers of their cars, thanking every person wearing a uniform for their service, or having a rush of pride during a flyover at some football game, few people stop to sincerely think about the state of our military and those participants in it.

To suggest or even consider the idea that perhaps society should not valorize war or veterans is immensely taboo, and no doubt contributes to the lack of this consideration.  Nonetheless, veterans health care remains a maelstrom – despite some progress under the Obama administration –  and post-traumatic stress disorder has increased among former combatants, while simultaneously drop out for PTSD treatments has increased.

Our unabated – if anything, rising – treatment of those in the military as demi-gods creates a façade in our society whereby going to war is the noblest of sacrifices, but underneath the fog of patriotism, there is more negligence than anything else.

Carl Forsling, who is a retired pilot for the Marines, wrote in a column, “[After September 11], Troops went to Afghanistan.  Americans went to the mall.”  He argues that Americans, having not been persuaded to enlist, developed a sense of guilt or debt for veterans.

Many, of course, will disagree with such a position.  Scott Yenor, professor of political science at Boise State University, understands the praise of soldiers not as an iniquity of patriotism, but more as part of the human condition.

“If you look at human history, an element of virtue is a willingness to sacrifice yourself for the community.  I think it’s a part of what could be called a natural law or a vow: That it is a good or honorable thing to sacrifice yourself for the community,” Yenor said.

But is the valorization of soldiers justifiable even if it is possibly innate?  Perhaps this leads to the over-glorification of war, allowing many people in power to justify sending troops to war by pointing out what a supposedly honorable deed it is.

“It could contribute to an over-glorification of war in certain circumstances.  But a failure to acknowledge it could lead to a certain under-glorification of war.  Every human experience is subject to problems on either side,” Yenor said.

On Veterans Day, when our country communally adulates its veterans, perhaps try contemplating alternative interpretations of such a holiday: Should America be a country that supports war to the extent that it does?  Then buy your bumper sticker.

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Skyview High School Student Newspaper -Nampa, Id
The Opinion Journal