WoW and Greatest Generation

by emily | December 2nd, 2010

I found that in The Greatest Generation Comes Home, Michael Gambone restates a lot of what Congress had promised veterans after serving in war. But what was not stated in the reading was the concept that the veterans barely ever received any of the incentives that the government had promised them. Gambone recalls after the Revolutionary War, “In 1782, Congress agreed to provide a pension of five dollars a month to sick and wounded soldiers for the duration of their lives”(6). Congress never followed through with their agreement. Also, I remember reading about this from the last Wages of War reading that, “Poor record keeping at the state and federal levels left the veterans’ pension-system ripe for fraud and manipulation”(7). It wasn’t the veterans’ faults that they couldn’t receive pensions, it was the government’s lack of organization that resulted in veterans not getting benefits. A lot of benefits were arranged for veterans, but most were never implemented.

In the epilogue of Wages of War, Severo and Milford comment upon the Vietnam War veterans greatly because their treatment was one that was different than the norm. Most Vietnam veterans blamed themselves for losing the war, when in actuality there was no way to win the war. Severo and Milford recite that, “Soldiers only bore most of the cost of the mistake”(421) because they fought in the war, so veterans were blamed for the loss. No one realized it wasn’t the soldiers who brought America into war, but the military advisers and civilians. I like the end of the epilogue where Severo and Milford describe Vietnam veterans by saying, “Their lessons are too important for us not to listen; they are master teachers”(425). Vietnam veterans were treated like no other war veterans. Actually hearing their stories and experiences from their perspective  is a more credible source than any other media resource. Vietnam veterans learned from their service and are now helpful in  Americans’ understanding of war regarding future generations.

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