Magazine article VFW Magazine

'War of the the Imagination'

Magazine article VFW Magazine

'War of the the Imagination'

Article excerpt

Where do veterans fit in society's perception of the war on terrorism and public respect?

This past year has been an eventful one for Americans wearing a uniform. Firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency medical technicians have never ridden higher in American society. Recognition for their invaluable services on the home front is well deserved.

But I can't help wondering about those in, or previously in, a military uniform. Has public esteem for them kept pace with the others' popularity?

In the months following the Sept. 11 attacks, the answer was an unequivocal yes. "Now, as the war scenes shift overseas," Mark Sappenfield wrote in The Christian Science Monitor last November, "it is the men and women of America's armed forces that are increasingly seen as modern-day heroes.

"The immense outpouring of praise for U.S. soldiers points to a unique confluence of cultural change and combat objectives that have led Americans to embrace the military as strongly as ever before." He added, however, "The persistence of good feelings will depend on a variety of factors, ranging from operational success to the terrorists' response."

How long will Americans see soldiers as "guardians of a just cause," as Sappenfield put it, "directly fighting to shield their nation from harm?" That depends mainly on how visible the anti-terrorist campaign remains. In September, Insight magazine posed the question: "Is America At War?" The persistent warnings that the U.S. is in a "real war against terrorism have lost much of their impact," the article concluded. …

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