Gifts and generals

A surprise dollhouse, and the end of the "officer and gentleman."

Published January 3, 2006 10:26AM (EST)

Salon Central

Best Gifts

Anne Marie Gazerro - 07:47 p.m. Pacific Time - Dec. 27, 2005 - #18 of 18

We never got many presents as children (violins in background), and one year I saw this dollhouse somewhere and really wanted it badly. It wasn't a great one, just plastic, but I loved it. Anyway, I put it out of my mind because I knew there wasn't a chance of getting it. We basically just got small things, not dollhouses (violins again! Sorry if I sound pathetic).

So on Christmas morning, when I opened a large gift and it was The Dollhouse, I was literally struck speechless. I could only stare with my mouth open for a few seconds. I didn't even recall telling anyone how badly I'd wanted it. I really wish everybody could experience that feeling. It was absolute surprise and happiness.

White House

Awol Part IV : Brought To Bay

Karl Northman - 08:46 p.m. Pacific Time - Dec. 27, 2005 - #9074 of 9078

It's true, though, that we have abandoned the notion of a military career as a way to add status to yourself -- not to prepare yourself for a different career, which will have status.

We no longer think of the term "an officer and a gentleman." Most Americans, meeting someone new, and finding out that he (or she) is a retired colonel, do not immediately think, "Ah, that speaks of a record of accomplishment over many years in possibly the most meritocratic organization in America."

I do, but it's because I'm old enough to have had a father who did ROTC as a way to get his tuition paid -- between 1927 and 1931, and I got raised reading things like "The Officer's Manual" and "Tactics and Techniques of Cavalry," and even though I was a draft resister (with my father's full support) during Vietnam, I've always considered the profession of arms to be an honorable one, and one that needs to be kept honorable.

But that's not how America sees things, particularly since Vietnam, and the media hasn't done any help. Virtually every British prince since maybe 1850 has served in the military. The modern ones, all of them, have served, and typically they have put in time in all branches, and one served, IIRC, on ship in the Falklands War, which was not exactly a walkover for the Royal Navy, given that 75 percent of the ships involved were either damaged or sunk.

Charles S. Robb went to Vietnam AFTER marrying LBJ's daughter.

But now we've got a government of people who take pride in getting rich and avoiding service. Is it any wonder that the NG is seen as "low status"?

By Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------