Sad, but true: Americans are out of touch with wars
If you want to know how removed we are from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- heck, from military matters altogether -- read Greg Jaffe's moving story in The Post about Lt. Gen. John Kelly and the loss of his son, 2nd Lt. Robert M. Kelly. The younger Kelly died after stepping on a land mine while leading a platoon of Marines in southern Afghanistan. He was 29.
Four days after receiving the news and undertaking the heartbreaking task of telling his wife about their son's death, Kelly delivered an unsettling truth during a speech in St.Louis last November. "We are in a life-and-death struggle, but not our whole country," he said. "One percent of Americans are touched by this war. Then there is a much smaller club of families who have given all." Did you catch that statistic? One percent of Americans -- Twitter-addled, Charlie Sheen-addicted and mall-hopping Americans -- are personally touched by this war.
Kelly's impassioned comment comes after a speech by Defense Secretary Robert Gates last September. "[T]here is a risk over time of developing a cadre of military leaders that politically, culturally, and geographically have less and less in common with the people they have sworn to defend," he said. And after a January "Chairman's Corner" blog post by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in which he cited that same 1 percent stat, writing, "I worry that we could wake up one day and that the American people will no longer know us, and we won't know them."
To be clear, no one is calling for a reinstatement of the draft. Yes, every year, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) reintroduces a bill to do so. But even he knows his effort isn't going anywhere. What Rangel's annual gambit does, as do stories like Jaffe's today, is remind us that our liberty and the way of life we sometimes take for granted comes at a high price that 99 percent of us will never pay.
| March 2, 2011; 1:05 PM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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