When I joined the US Army in 1961 it had a lot of attractions for a young man of 17. First off, it didn’t involve going to work in a moly mine in Questa, New Mexico. Secondly, it was the Berlin Crisis of 1961 and I naturally hoped I’d get an opportunity to kill me some young Russians to defend this country. Thirdly, the recruiter promised they’d teach me some skills I’d find useful in civilian life.
Eventually I learned that moly mine mightn’t have been a bad idea. Never got to kill me any Russians, neither. Never defended this country worth nuthun. And thirdly, the only skill I learned that might have helped me as a civilian was how to kill a man by hitting him in the face with an entrenching tool. A lot of years have passed since then, but I’m still hoping to put that entrenching tool thing to use.
Fact is, that like the US troops who served in WWI, the Spanish American War, the Mexican War, and all the US Army who fought the Apache, the Comanche, the Cheyenne along with dozens of other tribes, we were not ‘defending’ this country. Until WWII a person would have to go back to the Civil War and include the soldiers fighting for the Confederacy to locate someone defending his country.
Well, I suppose you could say the Mexican soldiers who fought against the US in the Mexican War were defending their country. And the Apache was defending his, and so on.
But those serving in the US Army were doing something else, entirely.
Care to guess what it was?