War Doesn’t Remake People — It Just Highlights Who They Already Are

The Long March

In a 2015 U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center presentation for his book “Doughboys on the Great War: How American Soldiers Viewed Their Military Experience” (available on YouTube),  Dr. Edward Gutierrez included an interesting quotation from author Coningsby Dawson, who had served with the Canadian Field Artillery in the area around the Somme for two years from 1916 to the end of the war.  


As Dawson saw the Lost Generation meme begin to take hold in the popular imagination through the writings of Dos Passos, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald in the decade after the war, he attempted to fight a rearguard action by insisting the following:

Men get out of the war what they brought to it… Except in rare instances the war did not recreate men; it only made emphatic in them tendencies that had been latent.

It is an interesting observation that gave me pause.  I have turned the proposition over in my head many times, both with regard to those with whom I served and to myself.  As much I wanted to deny it, I hedged and came down on the side of mostly true, for all the good and bad that implies.

Repurposing Dawson’s statement as a question makes for an illuminating mental exercise when considering the achievements and fates of both historical personalities and fictional characters.  Instead of thinking about what “delight of battle… far on the ringing plains of windy Troy” did to Achilles, Hector, and Odysseus, it may be just as worthwhile to explore what each man brought to the war, and how that affected their actions and destinies.  What did Benedict Arnold bring to the American Revolution? What did Pierre Bezuhkov and Prince Andrei bring to Borodino? Alvin York and and Desmond Doss to their respective crucibles in the Argonne Forest and Hacksaw Ridge? What did Lieutenant Calley and Hugh Thompson each bring to My Lai?       

Dawson’s proposition may be suitable when dealing with the aftermath of war as well.  Maybe it is possible to help veterans who are struggling by not only focusing on what they did in war or what it did to them, but by also helping them work through what they brought to it.

John Throckmorton is a business executive who lives with his family north of Atlanta.  He was a U.S. Army officer for 20 years.

Sam Fellman
(U.S. Army/Pfc. Hubert D. Delany III)

More than 7,500 boots on display at Fort Bragg this month served as a temporary memorial to service members from all branches who have died since 9/11.

The boots — which had the service members' photos and dates of death — were on display for Fort Bragg's Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's annual Run, Honor and Remember 5k on May 18 and for the 82nd Airborne Division's run that kicked off All American Week.

"It shows the families the service members are still remembered, honored and not forgotten," said Charlotte Watson, program manager of Fort Bragg's Survivor Outreach Services.

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After more than a decade of research and development and upwards of $500 million in funding, the Navy finally plans on testing its much-hyped electromagnetic railgun on a surface warship in a major milestone for the beleaguered weapons system, Navy documents reveal.

The Navy's latest Northwest Training and Testing draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Assessment (NWTT EIS/OEIS), first detailed by the Seattle Times on Friday, reveals that " the kinetic energy weapon (commonly referred to as the rail gun) will be tested aboard surface vessels, firing explosive and non-explosive projectiles at air- or sea-based targets."

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(U.S. Army/Sgt. Amber Smith)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Congress fell short ahead of Memorial Day weekend, failing to pass legislation that would provide tax relief for the families of military personnel killed during their service.

Senators unanimously approved a version of the bipartisan Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act Tuesday sending it back to the House of Representatives, where it was tied to a retirement savings bill as an amendment, and passed Thursday.

When it got back to the Senate, the larger piece of legislation failed to pass and make its way to the President Trump's desk.

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In less than three years after the National Security Agency found itself subject to an unprecedentedly catastrophic hacking episode, one of the agency's most powerful cyber weapons is reportedly being turned against American cities with alarming frequency by the very foreign hackers it was once intended to counter.

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(U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Scott Schmidt)

Editor's Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The spectacle of hundreds of thousands of motorcycles roaring their way through the streets of Washington, D.C., to Memorial Day events as part of the annual Rolling Thunder veterans tribute will be a thing of the past after this coming weekend.

Former Army Sgt. Artie Muller, a 73-year-old Vietnam veteran and co-founder of Rolling Thunder, said the logistics and costs of staging the event for Memorial Day, which falls on May 27 this year, were getting too out of hand to continue. The ride had become a tradition in D.C. since the first in 1988.

"It's just a lot of money," said the plainspoken Muller, who laced an interview with a few epithets of regret over having to shut down Rolling Thunder.

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