Friday, August 26, 2005

Duty Honor Country

I sent an email to a writer at Slate today. He critiques advertisements. I think he totally missed the boat in his review of the Army's new ad campaign

Here is my letter:

Dear Mr. Stevenson,

I used to be in the advertising industry. One of the reasons I left was because of the tendency of the people I worked with to make little of the things I thought important (e.g. family, service, virtue, discipline) and to make much of things I thought of as dangerous (e.g. mindless sef-gratification, revelry, the 4-F's, vice.) Nevertheless, I still have some admiration for the people who are able to make a compelling advertisement.

I recently read your critique of the Army's new recruitment ads. (Slate, Aug 22), While I don't even watch television anymore (so so your article is the only exposure I have had to the ads) it seems to me that you don't understand the ads because you you are not the kind of person to whom the ad is targeted. If I had to guess, I'd say you live a sissified life in which being a "stand up guy with a manly bearing" is not very important.

I currently have three sons. One of whom is 17, that is old enough to enlist. And even though you do not think I should be proud if he pulls recruiting materials out at the dinner table, I would be proud. I'd be very proud to think he wanted to be like the men of Valley Forge, Frederiksburg, Tripoli, the Coral Sea, Inchon, and a thousand other battles.

For too long, the Army has pandered to to the selfishness of teenagers. The "Be all You Can Be" campaign seemed like an offense against the men of the past; the men who gave everything they could give. I suppose the Army did that becuase their marketing consultants told them it was the best way to get people to enlist. I never saw the "Army of One" ads you mentioned in your article, but from your description it seems they were in the same vein, pandering to self-interest instead of the higher calling of selflessness that is the the most noble aspect of military service. I am glad, that as you report, the Army is getting back to what the Army is about: Duty, Honor, Country.

You ask in your article, "Who wants to let her son enlist when soldiers are getting killed every day?" Mothers are quite a bit different from fathers, but history shows us that mothers want their sons to be strong, noble, and good. And if we look at the diaries produced during the Civil war, we can make an argument that women are even more concerned with the honor and manliness of their husbands and sons than are the men themselves. But as for me, a father of three sons, except for my sons becoming priests, I can think of nothing better for them to be than soldiers.


Philippa said...

Amen! Well said!

raphaelthesinner said...

Right On!
Check out my tangentical (is that a word) post at