Next Monday, Wilton veterans will lead the Memorial Day parade with pride and camaraderie, thus preserving the legacy of courageous, selfless service shared with American veterans who have gone before them. Many marchers are in their mid-60s, others older, and fewer of them every year. It is important they be regarded not as senior citizens in faded uniforms, but as a symbol of America’s armed forces at large and its vital connection to our society.
Following World War II, when families had at least one member in uniform, political and journalistic references were supportive and admiring. Americans were familiar enough with the military to respect it, while aware of its shortcomings. Military service was still considered to be a rite of passage for young Americans — even Elvis.