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The Real Gap in Civil-Military Relations

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Courtesy Photo_USAA_130523_jpgOur AEI colleague Tom Donnelly has a terrific post at the Weekly Standard about the civil-military gap. Reacting to a recent quote from Tom Brokaw which laments the gap and casts Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as “victims,” Donnelly notes that “if there is a ‘gap’ in American civil-military relations, it is not because so few serve, it is because so few care to understand our military on its own terms.” He continues:

We should listen more carefully.  “We who are serving, and have served, demand not to be categorized as victims.”  That’s how Marine Gen. John Kelly, now commander of U.S. Southern Command but also one of the finest combat leaders in Iraq – and a father who lost a son in Afghanistan – put it in a heartfelt and eloquent Memorial Day address. “What the experts and commentators are missing, what they will also never understand, is the sense of commitment, joy, and honor, of serving the nation in its uniform.”

No, we could not experience it, but we could strive to understand it better, to at least acknowledge it and appreciate it.  God knows we rely upon it; fewer than one percent of us volunteer to don the uniform.  But those who do choose to, and they find a meaning in their service – many meanings: in the ideal of America, in service to our nation as a union, as promise-keepers their comrades in arms, in the hopes they bring to the innocent, in the righteous justice they visit upon the evil – that is extraordinary and exalted.

Read the whole thing.