America prides itself on being the land of the free and the home of the brave. When America becomes embroiled in war, national consensus usually manifests itself in patriotic support for these wars. Ironically, this was true even during the Civil War, when we were fighting amongst ourselves. This has certainly been representative in my family. Even though there is a strong strain of religious pacifism within it, there have been members of my family that served during every conflict from the Revolution through Vietnam.
Has something changed? Nobody in my family has served in the Armed forces since I got out and that was more than thirty years ago. Since that time we have been involved in Reagan's glorious liberation of a beleaguered Grenadan democracy and various Bush inspired wars of foreign aggression in Panama and the Middle East. While the Right Wing has tried to fan the flames of patriotic unity during these armed conflicts and they have been the longest and most expensive wars in our history, there has been little general support for any of them.
Nobody in my family has served during any of these wars or as far as I know, even considered it. None of my friends or coworkers have or any of their children. From the conversations I have been involved in at work, school or at social events, these wars might as well involve some other country than our own. One friend of mine, a member of a long oppressed minority community, joined the Army as a reserve officer, thinking to make the experience part of his own bootstrapping process of upward mobility. He quickly gave them all the money he had received back, asked for and was given a hasty discharge. I guess you can do that kind of stuff when you're an officer.
What do you think? Will Americans ever unite again in patriotic support for purposes of waging war?