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Ernest Hemingway's fiery rant against stolen valor is still relevant almost a century later
Long before Ernest Hemingway wrote, drank and fought his way into the ranks of America's legendary wordsmiths, the beloved author cut his literary teeth on the beat of a Canadian newspaper.
Fresh off a stint driving an ambulance for the Red Cross on the Italian front during World War I, the young Hemingway landed at The Toronto Star Weekly in early 1920, where he covered everything from mobsters to the complete uselessness of wedding gifts — including the rise of stolen valor and the lousy market for war medals that accompanied the end of the Great War.
One of Hemingway's funniest pieces was “ Popular in Peace, Slacker in War," a sarcastic, mocking lecture for the Canadian citizens who deployed not to the bloody trenches of war-torn Europe with the Canadian armed forces, but to relatively safe jobs in American munitions factories. Sensing these “morally courageous souls" might be a bit ashamed that they were not among their nearly 425,000 fellow countrymen who faced death overseas, the young Hemingway dispensed some sage words to help them pass themselves off as battle-hardened patriots.
A young Hemingway in Milan, Italy.(Wikimedia Commons photo)
Even in the 1920s, donning the proper attire was a crucial part of impersonating a real military man. For this, Hemingway suggests hitting the thrift store for a trench coat and maybe a pair of army boots, which will “convince everyone you meet on the streetcar that you have seen service," allowing you to “have all the benefits of going to war and none of its drawbacks."
The phony vet may also face inquiries about why he doesn't sport the overseas badge of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, to which he should shoot back “I do not care to advertise my military service!" This retort, Hemingway says, will cause the real combat vet “brazenly wearing his button" to feel like a total blowhard.
Papa's words of wisdom extend into the realm of seduction, too, one of the chief goals of any dirtbag who unjustly dons military dress. If a “sweet young thing at a dance" asks you if you ever met this or that major, he writes, “merely say 'No,' in a distant tone. That will put her in her place…" Looking wistfully into a glass of booze works well, too: As Hemingway himself knew, ladies love the strong, silent type.
The key to maintaining the ruse, of course, is research. Hemingway advises the pretend soldier to learn some classic French songs and to get his hands on a solid literary war history, which will empower him to “prove the average returned veteran a pinnacle of inaccuracy," since “the average soldier has a very abominable memory for names and dates." “With a little conscientious study," he writes, “you should be able to prove to the man who was at first and second Ypres that he was not there at all."
Hemingway poses with a water buffalo while on safari in Africa, circa 1953-1954. (Wikimedia Commons photos)
Acting the part is important, too. “Be modest and unassuming," Hemingway goes on, “and you will have no trouble. If anyone at the office addresses you as 'major,' wave your hand, smile deprecatingly and say, 'No; not quite major.' After that," he writes, “you will be known to the office as captain."
Those unfamiliar with Hemingway's sardonic, tongue-in-cheek style may take his guide literally, an actual roadmap to usurping the honor that comes with military service. But Papa makes his feelings about stolen valor very clear in the closing section of his piece.
“Now you have service at the front, proven patriotism and a commission firmly established, there is only one thing left to do," writes Hemingway. “Go to your room alone some night. Take your bankbook out of your desk and read it through. Put it back in your desk. Stand in front of your mirror and look yourself in the eye and remember that there are fifty-six thousand Canadians dead in France and Flanders. Then turn out the light and go to bed."
‘Take what’s inside and get it outside’ — Air Force psychologist reminds airmen of mental health resources
Kirtland Air Force Base isn't much different from the world beyond its gates when it comes to dealing with mental illnesses, a base clinical psychologist says.
Maj. Benjamin Carter told the Journal the most frequent diagnosis on the base is an anxiety disorder.
"It's not a surprise, but I anticipate about anytime in the population in America, about 20% of the population has some form of diagnosable anxiety disorder, and it's no different in the military," he said.
Leading the way among the anxiety disorders, he said, were post-traumatic stress disorder "or something like panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder."
The DNA of a niece and nephew, who never met their uncle, has helped identify the remains of the Kansas Marine who died in WWII.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that 21-year-old U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Raymond Warren was identified using DNA and circumstantial evidence. Warren had been buried in a cemetery in the Gilbert Islands, where he was killed when U.S. forces tried to take secure one of the islands from the Japanese.
The Battle of Tarawa lasted from Nov. 20 to Nov. 23, 1943, and claimed the lives of 1,021 U.S. marines and sailors, more than 3,000 Japanese soldiers and an estimated 1,000 Korean laborers before the U.S. troops seized control, the agency said.
Arizona lawmakers are vowing to fight a plan by the Air Force to start retiring some of the nation's fleet of A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack jets — a major operation at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base — as part of a plan to drop some older, legacy weapon systems to help pay for new programs.
U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., a former A-10 pilot, and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., both vowed to fight the move to retire 44 of the oldest A-10s starting this year.
During a press briefing last week, Air Force officials unveiled plans to start mothballing several older platforms, including retiring some A-10s even as it refits others with new wings.
MOSCOW/SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong Un was filmed riding through the snow on a white stallion last year, has spent tens of thousands of dollars on 12 purebred horses from Russia, according to Russian customs data.
Accompanied by senior North Korean figures, Kim took two well-publicized rides on the snowy slopes of the sacred Paektu Mountain in October and December.
State media heralded the jaunts as important displays of strength in the face of international pressure and the photos of Kim astride a galloping white steed were seen around the world.
North Korea has a long history of buying pricey horses from Russia and customs data first reported by Seoul-based NK News suggests that North Korea may have bolstered its herd in October.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A high-profile local Taliban figure who announced and justified the 2012 attack on teenage Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai has escaped detention, Pakistan's interior minister confirmed a few days after the militant announced his breakout on social media.
Former Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, who claimed responsibility on behalf of his group for scores of Taliban attacks, proclaimed his escape on Twitter and then in an audio message sent to Pakistani media earlier this month.
The Pakistani military, which had kept Ehsan in detention for three years, has declined to comment but, asked by reporters about the report, Interior Minister Ijaz Shah, said: "That is correct, that is correct."
Shah, a retired brigadier general, added that "you will hear good news" in response to questions about whether there had been progress in hunting down Ehsan.