An op-ed in today’s Opinion Journal offers the following Memorial Day quiz:
“1. Who is Jessica Lynch?
“Correct. She’s the Army private captured, and later rescued, in the early days of the war.
“2. Who is Leigh Ann Hester?
“Come on. The Kentucky National Guard vehicle commander was awarded a Silver Star last year for fighting off an insurgent attack on a convoy in Iraq. The first woman to receive a Silver Star since World War II, and the first woman ever to receive one for close combat.
“If you don’t recognize Sergeant Hester’s name, that’s not surprising. While Private Lynch’s ordeal appears in some 12,992 newspaper and broadcast reports on the Factiva news service, Sergeant Hester and her decoration for extraordinary valor show up in only 162.
“One difference: Sergeant Hester is a victor, while Private Lynch can be seen as a victim. And when it comes to media reports about the military these days, victimology is all the rage. For every story about someone who served out of conviction and resolutely went on with his civilian life, there are many more articles about a soldier’s failure or a veteran’s floundering.”
Columnist Suzanne Fields made a similar point yesterday:
“Memorial Day is hard upon us, when we celebrate the heroes of all our wars. The day has become mostly the marker for the first day to properly wear summer whites. War is still making heroes, but we don’t celebrate them anymore. We live in the age of the anti-hero, the rebel without a cause, or worse, the rebel whose cause is mostly how to live the soft life of sloth and ease. Courage is oh-so-retro. Young people who celebrate profiles in protest, not courage, can’t recognize a hero when he moves in their midst.”
On a semi-related subject: The press finally succeeded in extracting a much-sought apology from President Bush on “mistakes” in the Iraq war. I’m sorry he caved. I agree with Lucianne: I kinda liked it when Bush said, “Bring it on.” And apologizing is not going to make the press treat him any better.