Focal Point

THIS IS POSTED LATE again today, not because of any personal trauma but because I was obstructed by persistent site-access problems early this morning, their source undetermined. My apologies for any resultant inconvenience.

Other obligations including the need to get my dogs Brady and Jasmine their annual inoculations will keep me busy for most of the rest of the day, but I’ll be back sometime this evening to post a couple of offerings for the weekend. Then it’s “have a good weekend” and farewell until Monday.


I WAS A CHILD during World War Two. I have proud memories of the war effort at home including my late father’s diligently compensatory service for the War Production Board – he had been in the Army in the 1930s, had shot in match-competition using the now-legendary 1903 Springfield, had made corporal in a time when promotions were rare and slow, and had demonstrated such a remarkably high level of military skill, there is little doubt he would have seen action as a sniper and probably eventual promotion to officer-grade in some marksmanship unit – but much to his profound frustration, he was barred from further military service by a heart condition that was the legacy of childhood rheumatic fever. This was indeed the greatest frustration of his life, especially since the problem was not discovered until “new” medical standards were imposed at the end of his first enlistment, sometime in 1936 or 1937, the details unclear to me because he never talked about them or the profound and devastating blow they represented.

But I also have much more recent and deeply infuriating memories of the American home-front in another war, recollections of “anti-war activists” who spat upon and otherwise viciously harassed veteran soldiers returning from Vietnam. These "activists," a vast mob of infinitely selfish, morally imbecillic cowards, made no secret of the fact they despised all military veterans no matter what the war, and in many instances their "activism" included hurling human feces at men who instead should have been given ticker-tape parades and showered with rose petals. Thus because Tom Brokaw was very much a part of the so-called anti-war movement (though as far as I know he never spat on soldiers or pelted them with dung), I have always felt his “greatest generation” accolade was subtly condescending – an especially cruel form of damnation via praise. This is particularly true since Brokaw is surely one of the members of the hate-America-first school of modern journalism – though he is far from its most obnoxious perpetra(i)tor -- which has always made his suffusions of praise toward World War Two veterans seem vaguely hypocritical: the sort of thing you feel but can’t really single out for proper expression.

But now comes David Gelernter refining and articulating my half-formed thoughts on the subject as perfectly as if he had read my very own subconscious mind – in fact doing it far better than I could do because Gelernter makes points that would never have occurred to me – all of which results in a significant and vitally thought-provoking essay available here.

posted by on June 4, 2004 10:12 PM