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Travelers Are Not Always Tourists

November 10th, 2004 - 5:43 am

The reader comments added to my post just below are a facinating read. Many of them are first-person accounts of time in Berlin, before and after the Wall. Most of the writers are American military veterans who were stationed in Germany during the Cold War.

One reader notes:

That is to be expected of course since the military has always been the easiest way to “see the world”, but I wonder just how many liberals had the chance to see this event up close and personal like we have?

In fact, with the exception of the Vietnam War period where the draft caught up everyone no matter what their political persuasion, I would guess that there are many more conservatives who have traveled the world than liberals, simply because more of them have served in the military.

I wonder if this is a factor that the media, disconnected as it is from the world of military families and the military in general, has missed. I grew up in a small town in south Alabama, but because of its proximity to a large Army base (Ft. Rucker), I’d say at least a third of my grade-school classmates had lived overseas at one point or another, most of them in Germany. My own parents were stationed in England before I was born; I have a brother who’s buried in the American cemetary at RAF Lakenheath.

Years later, when I went to work on Air Force bases, again in small Southern towns, most of the uniformed military folks I knew (including almost all of the enlisted troops) had lived in Japan, Korea, the Phillipines, Germany, Britain, or Italy, to say nothing of deployments to Saudi Arabia and/or Kuwait.

I have to wonder if the academic and media elitists who sneer at the “provincials” in the “red states” have any conception of those kinds of life experiences, much less the effects that they’ve had on veterans, their families, and their friends. The level of sneering directed South (or East, from the Left Coasters) over the last few days seems to indicate a considerable ignorance as to just how much international knowledge and experience the ‘red staters’ really have.

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