By William Haupt III | The author is a Center Square contributor
“America without her soldiers would be like God without his angels.”
– Claudia Pemberton
The 1940s were trying times.
The global economic crisis gave way to a world war that became the deadliest and most destructive war in human history. Eighty million individuals lost their lives during World War II. The war saw genocide threaten the eradication of some entire nations. It unleashed the most fearsome technology ever used in war. When it ended, America was the world’s greatest superpower because it had the world’s greatest economy and the world’s greatest military forces.
America entered World War II on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japan staged a surprise attack on the U.S. military base at Pearl Harbor. In a two-hour attack, Japanese warplanes sank or damaged 18 warships and destroyed 164 aircraft. More than 2,400 servicemen and civilians gave up their lives. President Franklin Roosevelt vowed; “No matter how long it takes, we Americans will avenge this with a victory.”
People from all over America and every walk of life volunteered for service to defend the world’s greatest nation.
A total of 12,209,238 U.S. men and women served America and the nations of the world to fight for world freedom and democracy. U.S. soldiers fought in countries they’d never been to or heard of.
Many rushed to enlistment centers while others were drafted, eager to fight a war to end all wars.
A total of 672,123 service men and women sacrificed their lives for the gift of freedom worldwide.
World War II had scarcely ended when communism reared its ugly head in Korea. U.S. and allied troops stopped North Korea’s invasion of the South. But President Harry Truman refused to allow Gen. Douglas MacArthur to finish what he started to bring liberty to Asia. And this foreign policy blunder will haunt the U.S. forever.
“A general is just as good or just as bad as the troops under his command.” – Gen. Douglas MacArthur
Due to an unsettled peace in Asia, the U.S. has battled in many unpopular wars to stop the spread of communism. After fighting too many Asian civil wars, President Richard Nixon bowed to public demands and ended the military draft. And we are suffering the consequences today. Since our transition to a volunteer force in 1973, we have had many years when the military missed their recruiting goals.
In 1999, 2005, and 2018, when the economy was booming or conflict casualties were high, we had severe recruiting problems. According to military personnel officials testifying at a Senate hearing last week, 2022 is “arguably the most challenging recruiting year” since the military draft ended.
“Only those Americans who are willing to die for their country are fit to live.” – Gen. MacArthur
The Army announced it has been forced to cut its force by 12,000 soldiers because there are not enough volunteers to fill its ranks. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told the committee they are in a “war for talent,” not with the Air Force or Navy but with Americans refusing to enlist.
The Air Force’s top recruiter warned Congress that he has grave concerns meeting his 2022 goals. The Navy’s top personnel officer stated they may make their 2022 goals, but only “by reducing the Delayed Entry Program from historic norms.” The Marine Corps is struggling to find recruits also.
In 2013, to correct the shortage of service enlistees, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colorado, introduced the Military Enlistment Opportunity Act. This authorized armed force enlistment of persons who were residing in the U.S. but not citizens. After five years in the U.S. military, they would become legal aliens with a green card. This would give them permanent residence and a pathway to citizenship.
Although The Military Enlistment Act was a great opportunity to provide illegal aliens a legitimate pathway to citizenship, few took advantage of it since most “pseudo asylum seekers” have no ties to America. They come here for free social services, not to assimilate like our founding immigrants.
“We cannot sustain illegal immigration in perpetuity. It will not work for our country.”
– Lara Trump
The DOD says only 29% of Americans qualify for service. Things that disqualify them for service are a lack of a high school GED, drug use, poor health and a criminal record. They blame this on public education. They say that public schools do not teach our youth how to be good citizens.
Fitness, drug use and criminal records are not the only reasons why high school grads are turning their noses up at the military. Many Millennials and Gen Z hold more progressive views on issues like gay marriage, legal marijuana and morality. Many see the military as a bastion of conservative values like tradition, duty and sacrifice. Again this perception is a product of their public education.
Common Core teaches our youth that America is cruel and has treated Indians and blacks like second class citizens since our founding. They are teaching that racism is institutional, including in the military and our youth’s first duty is to correct our social problems, rather than defend their nation and its institutions.
“Wrong or right, as public education goes so does the country.”
– Steve Kagen
A recent DOD poll asked youths 16 to 20, “How likely is it you will serve in the military?” Only 11% responded “definitely or probably.” When asked why they had no desire to join the military, most of them replied, “With many companies like Amazon and Starbucks offering jobs with pay over $15 an hour, and benefits, why join the military?” With help wanted signs everywhere, they make a point.
At a time when threats to America’s security are the highest in decades, it is not encouraging that the military is facing a staffing crisis. Vladimir Putin is marching through Eastern Europe, Xi Jinping has vowed to take back Taiwan, and Iran and Kim Jong Un in North Korea are eager to attack their neighbors and the U.S. We need skilled patriotic enlisted men and women more than ever.
Gen. MacArthur once said, “Only those fit to live are not afraid to die.” Every teacher and every parent and everyone who influences America’s youth needs to give our young citizens a lesson in the civic duties for all Americans. Their first duty as a citizen is to protect their homeland. Service in the military not only helps secure our nation, but everyone who serves is rewarded. They learn high skilled professions; earn retirement and health benefits, and the GI bill pays for college education.
Today’s public schools teach that the American Dream is dead and their students buy into this, and they never knew that “they are living the American Dream.” They live in a nation where they can do or be anything they wish because men and women fought two Great Wars for them. Now it is their turn to fight the good fight to protect the American Dream for future generations that follow them.
The Pentagon needs to update its recruiting techniques to appeal to today’s youth. Solutions are possible, and ignoring this situation will not fix it. Our national security depends on it. It is easier to prevent a war than win one.
“Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory.”
– General George Patton
This commentary was provided to the News-Press by The Center Square, a nonprofit dedicated to journalism.