In the 1960s, history called the Baby Boomers. They didn't answer the phone.
Confronted with a generation-defining conflict, the cold war, the Boomers--those, at any rate, who came to be emblematic of their generation--took the opposite path from their parents during World War II. Sadly, the excesses of Woodstock became the face of the Boomers' response to their moment of challenge. War protests where agitated youths derided American soldiers as baby-killers added no luster to their image.
Few of the leading lights of that generation joined the military. Most calculated how they could avoid military service, and their attitude rippled through the rest of the century. In the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, military service didn't occur to most young people as an option, let alone a duty.
But now, once again, history is calling. Fortunately, the present generation appears more reminiscent of their grandparents than their parents.
I've spent much of the past two weeks speaking with young people (and a few not-so-young) who have made the decision to serve their country by volunteering for the military. Some of these men have Ivy League degrees; all of them are talented and intelligent individuals who--contrary to John Kerry's infamous "botched joke" ("Education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq")--could have chosen to do anything with their lives. Having signed up, they have either gone to Iraq or look forward to doing so. Not surprisingly, the mainstream media have underreported their stories.
One of the excesses of the 1960s that present-day liberals have disowned and disavowed since 9/11 is the demonization of the American military. While every now and then an unrepentant liberal like Charlie Rangel will appear on cable news and casually accuse U.S. troops of engaging in baby-killing in Iraq, the liberal establishment generally knows better. They "support" the American military--at least in the abstract, until it does anything resembling fighting a war.
In search of a new narrative, 21st-century liberals have settled on the "soldiers are victims" meme. Democratic senators (and the occasional Republican senator who's facing a tough reelection campaign) routinely pronounce their concern for our "children" in Iraq. One of the reasons John Kerry's "botched joke" resonated so strongly was that it fit the liberals' narrative. The Democratic party would have you believe that our soldiers are children or, at best, adults with few options: In short, a callous and mendacious administration has victimized the young, the gullible, and the hopeless, and stuck them in Iraq.
But this narrative is not just insulting to our fighting men and women, it is also grossly inaccurate.
At 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 was crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City by terrorists. Eleven years later on September 11, 2012, events unfolded in Benghazi, Libya, that would ultimately leave a U.S. diplomatic facility gutted and four Americans dead. As of 8:46 AM today, the U.S. State Department had not acknowledged either anniversary.
A WEEKLY STANDARD reader points out that in all the early commentary about the events in Libya and Egypt, no one seems to have noted the date. Could it be, as he puts it, that "someone had it marked on a calendar to whip up a murderous frenzy on, oh, Tuesday 9/11"?
Earlier this morning at the Pentagon, President Barack Obama delivered the following remarks in rememberance of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001:
"Secretary Panetta, General Dempsey, members of our Armed Forces, and most importantly, to the families --survivors and loved ones -- of those we lost, Michelle and I are humbled to join you again on this solemn anniversary.
Paul Krugman, of Princeton and the New York Times, was up early last Sunday morning, reflecting, as many of his fellow Americans were, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. He chose to share his thoughts on the meaning of the day. Here’s his contribution in its entirety, posted at 8:41 a.m., five minutes before the first moment of silence was to begin at Ground Zero:
Charlotte Allen's story this week documents how many of the country's top universities are commemorating the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks with postmodern intellectual posturing and Islamic outreach. But we're pleased to note that not all of the nation's universities have lost sight of remembering the fallen and the heroes of 9/11.
Lots of words have been and will be written for the tenth anniversary of 9/11, but Wilfred McClay has set a very high standard of courage, clarity, and eloquence with his "Memorializing September 11th." It's in the forthcoming issue of National Affairs, and is now available on their website. Here's a sample—but, really, do read the whole thing: