My cousin Johnny served in Vietnam as a helicopter repairman. I still remember the last time I saw him: he stayed with us one night between basic training and the start of his tour. He was good natured and easy going; he was bemused by the mixture of competence and bureaucracy that the Army had demonstrated to him during basic training. He was killed during his tour of duty in Vietnam.
Unlike our fathers, we are not called to give even a small portion of our lives to the defense of our country, and I, like most of my generation, chose not to do so. It is unclear whether a large, diverse society can survive indefinitely without that sense of service to the nation and that experience in social bonding; this experiment is only a few decades old, and the results are not yet in.
Michael Auslin in “Old Army Buddies“
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