By John PritsiolasSpecial to the Chronicle
Whether it be at the Battle of Falaise Pocket or the Battle of Ramadi, the United States Armed Forces have always been on the front lines. In more ways than one, the “Million Vet March,” where veterans protested the shutting down of military memorials, should be appropriately renamed the “0.5 Percent Movement.” What should mark an alarming pinnacle in American history hardly receives any attention, and that’s the growing civilian–military disconnect that our culture faces – an issue that is certainly paramount, but not the marketable aphorism of the day (politicians love to harp on the “dwindling middle class”).
Presently, we as a nation are more concerned with the erratic antics of Miley Cyrus than with the scary statistic that military suicides dwarf combat-related death. Furthermore, we seem more preoccupied with what Aziz Ansari has to say, instead of the fact that foreclosures on service members’ homes remain saliently high (up 23 percent in 2010 over 2008, at the height of the housing crisis).
We seem more distracted by the garnet red fireworks on the Fourth of July than by utilizing our monetary resources on the wounded warriors coming home from battle. Similarly, non-military families hope it doesn’t rain on Memorial Day so as not to interrupt festivities, rather than praying that the soldier with PTSD can ameliorate from his condition and be able to successfully provide for his family.
In a bizarre sense of satire, the National Anthem has now become the nationally recognized precursor to Sunday Night Football, rather than addressing the shameful issue of one in four homeless people being a veteran of a foreign war. Disgustingly, the right to subsidized contraception has superseded the need to resolve the issue of the nearly one million veterans who are currently unemployed.
As Hofstra students, we should look around and take note of those currently in the ROTC program. Do we want to see them treated the way our country’s veterans are currently handled, or do we want to honor the ultimate sacrifice that every soldier makes?
Twenty years from now, after the National Anthem has been sung ad naseum, do we still want to view it as an association with football, or as a hymn that actually bears the strength of its original intentions? Twenty years from now, do we want to see hundreds of thousands of veterans struggling to hold a job, or do we want to uphold our moral duty as Americans and lend them a helping hand? Twenty years from now, will we collectively turn our backs on the severely wounded veterans who served in the Middle Eastern theater, or will we be there to assist them through all their struggles and recovery?
Some pundits and commentators may state that we are akin to Japan’s forgotten generation, but they couldn’t be any more erroneous in their reasoning. The true forgotten generation embodies the essence of the fine men and women arriving on the tarmac in the archaic C-130s, not the individuals who must deal with their chimerical plight from behind their white picket fence.