Is the Military the Last Stronghold of US Institutional Values?

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            New Orleans     We have an extended family WhatsApp group, as many families have.  These things are a hodgepodge of advice and, usually, good will, attempts at humor, sports talk, birthday greetings, atta-boys, and occasional light controversy. Did I mention a LOT of advice!  It’s a great thing, especially for the brothers and siters with children and outlaws like myself, chiming in more rarely.

Recently, there was a good deal of back and forth about the Army-Navy game, because veterans of long standing are very well represented on this group.  I honestly had forgotten anyone cared about that game, but that was more likely just me, since the SEC dominates where I live.  I don’t know if I have followed a game since Roger Staubach was playing there as a Heisman Trophy winner.  Navy won this particular game, but Army must have been favored, and somehow mysteriously beat Missouri from the dominant SEC in some kind of bowl game.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the military recently, which is something I generally don’t like to do very much.  When friends and relatives ask me if I ever served, I quickly reply that I served in the Peoples’ Army during the Vietnam conflict, which is to say the army of people organizing to stop the war and have us leave Vietnam.  Nonetheless, keeping up with the news over the last year has given me some respect for the US military as perhaps one of the few major institutions that continues to stand tall for American collective values.

There is nothing liberal about the top command these days.  Here are some examples that buttress my case:

  • The military was adamant about not being drawn into the Trump 2020 election mess, and even went over the line in assuring counterpart allies and other countries like China, that there would be no facilitated coup in the US.
  • On vaccines, Pentagon, headed by a general, has been unwavering about the mandate.  In fact, they have reportedly received 14,000 requests for religious and other exemptions and have honored to date exactly zero.
  • In the wake of January 6th, the Pentagon is drawing the line against extremism in the ranks by issuing new guidelines that even subject “likes” on social media of such groups as warranting disciplinary action.  The military was embarrassed by the number of current and former service veterans that attended the Trump coup attempt.
  • The Navy even relieved two top officers of a littoral ship recently because they had not handled allegations of sexual harassment properly.
  • Attempts by red states to draw the National Guard into state political fights over mandates and more, have been successfully opposed by the military and rejected by the courts.

You get the message, right?  The military, of all of our institutions, seems clearest that unity counts and the good of all is superior to any individual interest, both of which are classic, and endangered, values.  Most of the top command would probably call themselves conservatives, but these values are perhaps more under assault from so-called conservatives than from any other sector of our diverse and divided country.  I never would have thought that I would be tipping my hat in thanks to the US military, but when they draw the line and hold it steadfast, we all owe them gratitude.