Blumenthal shows why we're still fighting the Vietnam War
Decades after the Vietnam War, the question haunts many men of the baby-boom generation, including Richard Blumenthal: 'What did you do in the war?'
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In his autobiography, General Colin Powell wrote: "I am angry that so many sons of the powerful and well placed and many professional athletes (who were probably healthier than any of us) managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units. Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to our country."
To be sure, serving in the Reserves or National Guard is fully honorable. A very high percentage of the soldiers fighting (and becoming casualties) in Iraq – especially in the first few years – were “weekend warriors” called to active duty.
Military service is very touchy for much of the political left. It's not really part of their culture, and yet they can't really acknowledge that. (This, despite the fact that many of the most highly-decorated members of Congress have been Democrats – including former Sen. Bob Kerrey, who won the Medal of Honor as a Navy Seal in Vietnam.)
It's also generational. Ted Kennedy and his brothers all served in the military (two of them in World War II, one of whom was killed in action); none of the next generation of Kennedys did.
What happened between those Kennedy generations (and for the rest of us, including Richard Blumenthal) was Vietnam – a 10-year war of dubious purpose that cost more than 58,000 American lives – and the end of the draft.
“Our privileged youth are no longer serving,” Professor Charles Moskos told me several years ago. The late Dr. Moskos, a renowned sociologist at Northwestern University specializing in the military, pointed to his own experience.