The nature of heroism
September 14, 2012 · Updated 3:57 PM
As a 26-year veteran (1966-1992) of the Naval service, I am appalled, deeply dismayed and deeply embarrassed by the reactions of the “naval community” to Mrs. Haglund’s letter, which was factually incorrect, ungenerous and selfish in tone. However, it certainly did not justify the thuggish attacks on and terrorizing in contravention of all military values of an elderly lady exercising her right to free speech.
The “sound of freedom” would be more accurately characterized as the sound of bankruptcy. As the U.S. has become ever more quantitatively superior in military aviation we have become less successful in attaining our war aims and ever more deeply indebted.
Since the founding of our republic, our wisest men have maintained that the greatest threat to our freedom would always be internal, since no foreign power could conquer us, but we, like all peoples, would produce plenty of homegrown would-be tyrants.
Since 9/11, I have seen thousands of ribbons and medals on NASWI personnel, very few of which were combat decorations and none that I can remember were Purple Hearts. Therefore, I conclude that they are doing a very good job, but to say that they are “fighting for us” in the sense of being exposed to harm by an enemy is a bit of a stretch.
A minority of today’s military is actually “fighting for us” and they are overwhelmingly in the Army and Marine Corps infantry. Everybody else has received expensive training, is paid well, has job security and excellent benefits and is in little or no danger. They do experience deployments and family separation, which was understood to be part of the deal from the beginning.
During the 31 months I was in Vietnam, I was wounded, commanded a Marine platoon and a Marine company in combat and met a few heroes – before the term became a generic reference for anyone in uniform. They mostly paid for their heroism with wounds or death. I can assure you they would never have thought it acceptable to attack an elderly woman for criticizing them.
Heroes fight real enemies and accept danger in doing so, and they don’t need to be defended from the comments of elderly ladies.
John T. MacNamee