These days, even Vietnam veterans seem susceptible to a sort of Nam nostalgia, although that may more accurately signify an effort to silence lingering demons. In surprisingly large numbers, those who departed Vietnam swearing never to return are today lining up to do just that. A decade or two hence, count on some intrepid travel operator to start organizing tourist excursions that will escort ex-GIs back to Anbar or Kandahar. Thus does war’s seductive allure persist.
Indeed, apart from revealing a distinct if inexplicable preference for George W. Bush as commander in chief over Barack Obama, the new Washington Post poll contains few real surprises.
That recent veterans view soldiers (and presumably themselves) as more moral and patriotic than their fellow citizens should not come as news. That, after all, forms one of the standard tropes of the age. To judge by press clippings and political speeches, those volunteering to serve are better than mere civilians. Veterans apparently take such claims seriously. By more than three to one, they “feel good” about public testimonials of support, ranging from yellow ribbons to beer commercials, that affirm the soldier’s elevation to the status of national icon.