Letters to the Editor

Readers write about the military and the elite, and words describing introverts.

In war, America's elite and the military can be at odds

In response to Peter Gudmundsson's Jan. 8 Opinion piece, "America's upper classes have gone AWOL": Mr. Gudmundsson seems to suggest that military service is the only way to understand the geopolitical realities of our time.

Gudmundsson asks for support from historians in teaching about military service, yet his own example of a Great War veteran giving perspective on D-Day makes a comparison between historical events so dissimilar as to be incomparable.

I have the highest respect for our past and present service members, including many of my own family members.

Their opinions, like the opinions of the intellectual, the parent, the teacher, the dissenter, and the civilian should all be valued in forming a democratic consensus about the Iraq war and the politics surrounding it.

I find Gudmundsson's suggestion that the only way to view this war is through the lens of military service, both slightly offensive and vaguely dangerous.

He is replacing the civilian elite with another elite, when the reality is that all input and analysis are important for a healthy democracy.

Armand S. Morton
Apple Valley, Calif.

In response to Peter Gudmundsson's Opinion piece about the elite class and the military: Generally, the middle class do not join the military.

In many countries, at least in the past, the military officers were made up of predominantly the elite classes.

When I was growing up, no middle-class student thought of joining the military – in part because the only people we knew in the military were either immigrants seeking an easy route to citizenship, young men pushed in by their parole officers, or young people so poorly educated in the public schools that they could not pass the civil service exam.

Every once in a while one ran into someone whose family had a long tradition of serving in the military and who might go to college for two years in order to enter the military as an officer.

Recruiters have such a bad name now due to bullying and luring high school students into the military with false promises, that I do not believe they would be effective on an elite college campus.

As for the Reserve Officers Training Corps, I'm skeptical that elite students would take a nonelite, working-class officer seriously.

Though I have no doubt that the military is full of fine professional, committed, and disciplined soldiers (I have relatives that fit this category), I just wonder how you cross the class divide.

Though even elite students would consider joining the military in the event of a World War I or World War II situation, why would they risk their lives for anything less urgent?

Cynthia Edmond
Richardson, Texas

Other words to describe introvert

In response to Diane Cameron's Jan. 2 Opinion piece, "Happy introvert day": Ms. Cameron described so well the experience of being a quiet person in an extroverted culture.

But I was troubled by the word "introvert."

While Cameron notes that, contrary to popular perception, this is a positive personality type, I think the word "introvert" inevitably retains negative undertones.

So I went looking for a better term. How about: "reserved," "modest," or "composed"?

Maybe those words aren't quite right either, but those 20 minutes alone with my thesaurus were quintessential introverted fun.

Meredith Drake
Geneseo, N.Y.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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