War Heroes

Outside the Beltway: Why Are Victims Our Only War Heroes?
James Joyner has a couple of links and some interesting thoughts on war heroes:

Much of this is an artifact of 24-hour news television and historically low casualty rates. In WWII or Vietnam, we’d never have heard the name of a truck driver who’d received injuries from a vehicle accident because there were so many soldiers dying under heroic circumstances. Indeed, one essentially had to earn the Medal of Honor or become an aviation ace to get much news attention for one’s soldiering exploits. We lost more soldiers in the first wave at Normandy than during the entirety of the Iraq War to date. In Iraq, each and every dead soldier is a personal human interest story.

It’s a good observation. Our casualty numbers are so low these days compared to WW2, Korea and Vietnam that the individuals that make the ultimate sacrifice can be known. With 295,000 soldiers killed in WW2, 34,000 soldiers killed in Korea and 58,000 soldiers killed in Vietnam the tolls were staggering.

It also brings up another point: since we abandoned the draft, soldiers are no longer expendable in the way they once were. The military has to train and retain professional soldiers. That makes the loss of a soldier more expensive and difficult to replace, whereas a conscript was no farther away than the nearest draft board.

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