Thank you for publishing Roland Merullo’s Memorial Day essay “The patriotism of sacrifice” (Op-ed, May 28). As the father of a Marine, who enlisted about a year ago, I am drawn to stories and reports on our armed forces and the men and women who are serving. I am making up for lost time and my own ignorance.
I turned 18 in 1973, the year the draft was abolished. At that time and for years afterward, the military was reviled by large segments of our country. And, unfortunately, we failed to distinguish between the military institutions and the individual soldiers, sailors, and Marines, holding them in equal contempt.
Our attitude toward those who serve has matured. We no longer hold those wearing boots responsible for decisions made by those wearing wingtips.
Yet in other respects, we are more out of touch with our armed forces than ever. The percentage of families with someone serving is so small that many of us do not know anyone in the armed forces. I have talked with friends and colleagues recently who are convinced that we are no longer sending troops to Afghanistan. They would be surprised to know that we are, often with tragic results. Our son told me last week that men and women who finished boot camp with him a few months ago have already been injured or killed.
I have been to three Marine bases in the last nine months as I follow our son through his training. I urge everyone to learn more about those who serve.