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Brian Mark Weber / January 17, 2020

People Who Hate Their Country Won’t Serve It

Is it any wonder that our military lacks representation from urban and coastal population centers?

There was a time in America when each generation learned about love of country and the importance of service. It didn’t matter whether a kid grew up in the Bronx or in a small town in Mississippi. Despite our geographic and cultural differences, there was a common thread that tied us all together.

What happened to that America?

During Ronald Reagan’s farewell address in 1989, the former president asked, “Are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American.”

Reagan continued, “We absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn’t get these things from your family you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea or the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture.”

This is one of the most striking differences between America in 1989 and in 2020. Millions of young people today are taught by their parents, teachers, and certainly by Hollywood elites that the country they were born into is racist, sexist, and unworthy of patriotic pride. The very founding principles of our nation are unjust and deeply flawed, they say.

Even the Declaration of Independence, humanity’s greatest document of freedom, is now regarded by young Americans as the product of racists, oppressors, and purveyors of genocide. And we wonder why our children grow up to reject the very notion of service to country. Instead, they envision a future in which our traditions, institutions, and values are burned to the ground amid the battle cries of “social justice” warriors.

“Today, neither right-wing populists nor left-wing social reformers seem to have much faith left in those principles,” Dan McLaughlin writes at National Review. “The former are willing to discard them whenever temporary advantage can be gained in the tribal culture war, and the latter see American principles as the enemy.”

Is it any wonder that our military lacks representation from urban and coastal population centers, where American values are more likely to be denigrated than inculcated, and where parents and grandparents are less likely to have served? And is it any wonder that the opposite is true in smaller towns and in more conservative families and communities, where love of country is still the rule rather than the exception?

“More and more, new recruits are the children of old recruits,” Dave Phillips and Tim Arango report in The New York Times. “In 2019, 79 percent of Army recruits reported having a family member who served. For nearly 30 percent, it was a parent — a striking point in a nation where less than 1 percent of the population serves in the military.” According to their research, significantly fewer numbers of recruits come from northern states or big cities on the coasts such as New York or Los Angeles.

They add, “In communities where veterans are plentiful, teachers, coaches, mothers, uncles and other mentors often steer youths toward military service. In communities where veterans are scarce, influential adults are more wary.”

Put more bluntly, liberals and their progeny are less likely to serve, and recent research seems to validate the claim that more conservative regions of the country are generally more pro-military.

Sociology professors at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley published research indicating that party affiliation has shifted in the U.S. military. Denise Marie-Ordway writes at Journalist’s Resource that the research shows “among those [service personnel] who came of age before World War II, 55.4 percent identified as Democrats, 38.3 percent identified as Republicans and 6.2 percent considered themselves Independents. Fast forward several decades and party ties look quite different. About a third of veterans who turned 18 between 1972 and 2016 identified as Democratic. Just more than half said they were Republican, and 16.7 percent were Independent.”

If our country seems to be coming apart at the seams, we need look no further than this seismic shift in military service and the root causes behind it.

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