Attitudes towards veterans

Discussion in 'Historiography' started by Callisto, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. Callisto

    Callisto Twitter ye not

    This is NOT intended to be about how veterans feel they have been treated, but about how OTHERS feel about them.

    For a while now i've perceived what i believe is a shift in attitude towards uniformed service within Britain. Perhaps i'm just an old fuddy-duddy who prefers quiet respectfulness to overt or gushing reverence.
    It occurred to me particularly that the word hero has in general terms been applied more and more, in a rather slapdash manner, to the detriment of the truly remarkable. Do heroes by definition have to do something above and beyond the call of duty, essentially more than their comrades did, or more than was expected of them all by their country?

    Have others felt the same squeamishness i have when reading what i think of as contrived over-the-top prose usually about some fictional ex serviceman? The type of emailed you-must-read-this emailed links that circulate. I've noticed that a lot of these seem to originate from outside Britain. Is there a difference in the expression of appreciation of veterans and their experiences within commonwealth countries?

    As comments tend sometimes to get heated on the assumption of peculiar hidden agendas, here's my disclaimer from the offing: This is not an attempt to detract from experiences of veterans, particularly those who experienced combat, merely to ascertain if my observations are baseless or not.
  2. heidi xx

    heidi xx Discharged

    I don't care for modern day veterans, including Vietnam, sorry, please no offense. It is wrong to invade and corrupt other countries just soon after WWII, as a Matter of fact, Allied soldiers were chasing away the invaders now the Allies are the invasion force.

    I also think, the Russians and Americans think their military and soldiers were better than the British.

    I do however honor all WWI & WWII vets. WE need more stories from WWII vets especially from the British vets.
  3. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Some time ago I had to point out to a member that we fought against an evil and FOR the greater good and we sometimes cringe with horror at the adulation of to-day's " heroes " especially when we hear of the casualty lists from - say Afghanistan - at some 400 killed and the fact that this had taken place over ten years- whereas just ONE month long Battle in the North of Italy - the British and Commonwealth 8th Army lost 14,000 KIA
    That is quite a difference - and what were they fighting for in Korea - Veit-Nam - Panama- Grenada - Serbia - Irag and now Afghanistan - and more than likely Iran shortly or Syria
    as I understand it that the Poppy harvest in Afghanistan has actually increased.
    Then we have our fearless leaders legislating for the policies we fought against as they merrily legislate for Abortion - Homosex- and the latest destruction of Marriage.

    we wonder if there is a co relation between all the schools shootings as to the actula subjects taught to-day.....not to have armed guards in every school - lets look at the curricula's....

    Makes me and many other WW2 Vets wonder why we bothered
  4. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi Tom Keep well mate.
    When I look around what we fought and died for, I despai. The country looks more like a foreign land. And the measly 11% deficit on our GDP is being used to screw down the people of this once sacred Country.

    Now we are the dustbin of Europe and Asia
  5. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Being an "OTHER", a few slight comments on some aspect of the initial proposition.

    Not surprisingly, both my mother and father were/are "heroes" in my family's eyes and not (just) because they had totalled between them 11 years of war time service in England, Wales, Scotland, Algeria, Tunisia, and Italy, and a more peaceable Austria. My focus is also on their full life history starting from when they were growing up in some difficult economic years in Sarf London during the 1920s and 30s, and then the post Second War period supporting a half dozen of us, going onto higher education and full working careers, and in parallel playing a leading part in the fabric of their social and church community for 65 years (and counting).

    No doubt, my father would not be best pleased that I would speak about him in these terms. One of his driving motivations in his later years (post 27 years old), I would say, was to a live a life that properly recognised the sacrifice of the comrades and friends who did not return to their families. Similarly to most, I would also suggest, he refused to speak openly about the tragedy and awfulness of his 2 1/2 years of front line service - he would quietly attend Remembrance Service parades and annual reunions (Bou Arada night etc) without fuss. "Where's Dad?" was a oft heard comment in our household come November or January.

    Fortunately, my father wrote down his memories of / reflections on his long life, and I was able to discuss some of those with him. He reflected on his post war motivations and outlook - he was highly supportive of the social and economic progress of Britain in the late 1940s and mid 1960s. He was not always in favour of some of the changes at the time, but highly sensitive to the inherent rights of those who found themselves in a minority in our country - he remembered, from family lore and first hand experiences, the extreme discrimination that he and his forefathers faced after they came to England during the 1840s and 50s (and that evolving discrimination continued well into the 20th century).

    I am now fortunately in regular contact with about 20 men, who were comrades of my father during the 1930s and 40s. There is no real surprise that they are of a similar ilk to my father - be they retired High Court judges, authors, printers, teachers and army officers. I am sure, though, that they have a wide variety of outlooks towards current/recent political and social phenomenons...

    I won't say it aloud, but they all remain heroes in my eyes.. as is my mother who worked at the War Office, and as are, of course the hundreds of thousands of mothers and fathers, who remained at home without news of their loved ones.

    A bit of a New Year riff, there...
  6. Callisto

    Callisto Twitter ye not

    This is NOT intended to be about how veterans feel they have been treated, but about how OTHERS feel about them.

    i am something of a pedant. So please if you all feel strongly about the state of today's society, or the decisions of politicians to send their armed forces to wars abroad, (as per first 3 responses) take it to another thread. This isn't the topic in hand. Perhaps i have not made it clear enough in my introduction.

    More succinctly put, but with the previous elaborations from my first post in mind - Hero worship: does it exist as a new phenomena, applied to veterans of any era and if so, what do you think about this shift?

    Any takers?
  7. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    After my shower...

    I also think the fetish (my word for it) for the term "hero" is largely a media driven invention which is then carried throughout our whole society as though it's an accepted wisdom and instant description for a wide variety of acts, both within a civil and military context..Just one glimpse of a Saturday night phone in show gives you an idea ("I've been through such a journey over the past six weeks.." blah blah).

    No doubt, too, those who are serving/have served in recent conflicts should have our greatest respect, and the personal tragedies that have affected so many is something to constantly reflect on. Even if you disagree with the political decisions to go to war..and I certainly do.

    I recently attended a Remembrance Day parade with men who served this year in Afghanistan, and with other men, who had been seriously injured in Iraq. My observation was that self effacement seemed everything for these men ("just doing my job" etc - plus ca change)...their respect for the fallen from the two World Wars was obvious and affecting, and they were also keen to learn about the experiences of the many men who didn't go home for 2/3/4/5 years. Their respect was clear.

    In conclusion, I think we should all try to understand the deeper stories behind the headlines.. .
  8. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    When I first joined the Sgts' mess we still had WW2 veterans attending functions. They asked for no more than to be treated as elder and senior members of the family. The word hero was only used on very rare occasions. Whenever members ex and serving entered the mess medals were removed in plain clothing . The shout would go up and hands would go up to the head as though tilting a battle bowler at 45 degrees and then an arm waved in the air - swing the tilly lamp if anyone started the I was there stuff. It was just our way. You would get stories where humour was involved the cock ups provided many a laugh. You can say to someone did you assault Tumbledown the answer might be no, he was part of the fire support group, some will shrug and think not in the thick of it then, maybe be not but in battle a vital part of the assault. Every man and woman plays a part. Late 1970s we were in Chelsea Barracks, across the road was the Chelsea Hospital, one Colour Sergeant ex SG would on many days make his way into barracks with a 'good morning' the gate sentry would pay respects due a CSgt come to attention and say Morning Sir. The times the RSM Chelsea Hospital would be on the phone to the mess steward ranting about the colour bloke being 'rat arsed' and not spent a shilling!
  9. urqh

    urqh Senior Member

    I'd say you were spot on old chap.
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Hero = A person, typically a man, who is admired for courage or noble qualities.

    If that is the definition of hero then I guess it's down to the individuals take on things. That SAS Sergeant sent to 'Collie' recently was branded a hero by the media, no doubt in a successful attempt to get him out-Personally I thought he was something else.
  11. urqh

    urqh Senior Member

    Ok, I'll have a go, before I'm shot down.

    And I'm not trying to be insuliting in any way or form to today's serving folk.

    Firstly, pulling on a uniform does not make one a hero. That has to be a given and understood before any debate can take place.

    My own view is probably discoloured politically, we cannot get away from politics..Many wish it away from ww2 type forums, but I for one am of the view oft stated that war is but a continuation of a failed political agenda. Politics comes before war.

    In this country..UK...I fully believe that the diminuation of size in the armed forces adds to the hero tag we now have. The days of servicemen even after ww2 and in my own day, on the railway station or hitching a lift with service kit bag and uniform seem to be long gone. The sight of servicemen in society dissapeared for a short time. I'm not arguing the good or bad of this or any cuts, just a plain fact.

    Then we have actions or wars that the public are presented with and suddenly the armed forces are there on screen...Many disagree with the actions behind some of these wars or actions...The govt of the day of whatever colour needs the public behind its actions...the easiest way is to push the servicemen and his willingness or hers to sacrifice...something that he or she has always done and is nothing new. Thus parades...hero's...Supporting the troops is no matter what the public at large think even if otherwise...supporting their actions and wars etc. There is no way from seperating that as some wish. I don't support many wars of today, I do support the military and thats the problem...I say it now...and risk the derision..I don't support today's military, which I believe through top commanders have allowed the British military to be hijacked and aligned for political short term gains and reasons. My country right or wrong my military right or wrong is as wrong today as it always has been.

    My take is the govt need our hero's to be called hero's...All of them...the public have fallen for something I never thought possible in this country...The big lie...Its always been there,,,we though in UK have in past thought ourselves different from everyone else...It seems we are no longer that way. I'm not always proud to be British...I am though grateful to be British.

    But Hero's all...? No..And those of us that are hesitant about all this are not supporting the boys...and girls it seems...which is just rubbish.

    But a simple answer to the question.....Yes hero worship of vetrans does exist. The public are give a daily diet of military wives choirs' the Sun's Millies awards, books in abundance of current activities...Help the hero's...This in its turn has raised the awareness of previous servicemen somewhat which is a good thing. And now it seems all those that have ever served is pushed forward by the media as a hero of some sort.
    The media stories of homeless, sick, or just waiting for a hospital appointment will in future always be headlined with the word HERO in there and the terrible way he or she is treated. My observation, may have it wrong..I don't really care..I see it my way. I see hero's everywhere and a public being led by govt and media and today's armed forces hierarchy at the front of it all..Vetrans day did not last long did it? Armed forces day took over, with the vetrans being pushed quietly below the headlines..And all ministers of the day appearing on the tv on the day leading the call to support OUR HERO'S and vetrans...
    Heimbrent likes this.
  12. heidi xx

    heidi xx Discharged

    Then we have our fearless leaders legislating for the policies we fought against as they merrily legislate for Abortion - Homosex- and the latest destruction of Marriage.

    we wonder if there is a co relation between all the schools shootings as to the actula subjects taught to-day.....not to have armed guards in every school - lets look at the curricula's....
    Makes me and many other WW2 Vets wonder why we botheredWhen I look around what we fought and died for, I despai. The country looks more like a foreign land. And the measly 11% deficit on our GDP is being used to screw down the people of this once sacred Country.

    Now we are the dustbin of Europe and Asia
    Ive always wanted to asked WWII British vets these questions but I WAS TO scared because one can be banned for asking about today's politics.

    My own British parents hated Great Britain after WWII, they thought things would go back to normal, so they packed up and migrated to Australia.

    You British vets get less pension from the British government then new migrants to Britain, exactly the same goes with Aussie vets too over here in OZ, so you Brits are not alone. IT'S NOT ON AND NOT RIGHT! IT'S ALL WRONG.
  13. Joe Brown

    Joe Brown WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    My Hero:

    I want to walk by the side of the man who has suffered and seen and knows

    Who has measurd his place on the battle line, and given and taken blows

    [Pfc Chas. W. Bodley: 1943]

  14. Callisto

    Callisto Twitter ye not

    You have put forward some very interesting (and relevant) observations and i thank you for them.

    i do agree that to an extent the "diminuation of the size of the armed forces adds to the hero tag" but it's not the only factor. Perhaps it's a cyclical thing (anyone watched Hislop's Stiff upper lip programmes?) but in general we seem to have taken on a mantle of sugar-coated sentimentality which i think leads also to a misunderstanding of the place of armed forces in our society. Yes they are the enforcement of failed political agendas, they are also carrying out a role which we as voters are responsible for, yet they are seen now not as part of us but separate or above.

    And, now it's the norm to applaud corteges instead of remaining respectfully silent. i've often wondered how long it will be before that is taken up at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday.

    As in the example given by Drew5233 any criticism of service personnel is now routinely slammed down as being unsupportive of the forces and disrespectful.

    Fellow servicemen and women have clearly long been able to distinguish between pulling on a uniform and being a hero, as eluded to by Wills, but Joe Public seems to have lost this ability. Perhaps because it is no longer common to have as many serving men in the family as before.

    Heidi would you please take your own questions to another thread, both your posts are muddying the waters here. Anyone who responds to your comments will invariably go off-topic. Cheers
  15. idler

    idler GeneralList

    I would throw my lot in with the fuddy-duddies: the term 'hero' is overused and misused. I'd say urqh is spot on with the political and media-inspired hero-worship being a bit of a smokescreen for what the forces are being asked to do.
  16. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

  17. Callisto

    Callisto Twitter ye not

    Your post is mainly addressing veteran issues so perhaps in order to avoid derailing this one altogether could you start a thread of your own about that? I;d imagine you'll get plenty of sympathetic/concurring responses as a result.

    This is NOT intended to be about how veterans feel they have been treated, but about how OTHERS feel about them.
    urqh, Jonathan Ball and Drew5233 like this.
  18. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    No!..No thread about the posting Why? Well it is pretty much about how Vets are treated. The paying public respect for the service folk behind the scenes is a very different picture ..We hear lots of talk about heroism and respect for those that gave the natione freedom. LIke so man political pronouncemenst what you hear and what you get are very different indeed.
    But to return to the subject of Heroism. Yes, Looking back at what we did and what we went through, then by heavens we were bloody heros...But it is only in hindsight that you realise just what you did in your youth....
  19. Callisto

    Callisto Twitter ye not

    I've tried to be patient but i've come to the conclusion that either you are being deliberately rude in hijacking the thread for your own agenda or you don't understand the issue i brought up.

    The topic is not heroism per se. The topic is not veteran issues. The topic is not priority treatment in the health service, homelessness or government policies or broken promises.

    i'm afraid that this thread has probably come to a (disappointing) end. Thank you to all those who replied with their 'on topic' opinions.
    Heimbrent likes this.
  20. heidi xx

    heidi xx Discharged

    Sapper is entitled to his opinion. I thought this thread was about WWII vets and how we felt about them and how we feel about it all now?

    OK, you asked and this is coming from the horses mouth (I'm not really a horse):lol:

    I used to think British /US/ Aussies WWII vets were truly heroes until all three governments decided to shat in all of their faces,which I had learn in a short few years. Just going by the two WWII Brits veterans posts, they seem to be really unhappy since their country won WWII, and I feel the same way as they do. They deserve better than what they get now. Sapper has life injuries and disabilities for the rest of his life, all for what? So he gets treated worst then other new people entering Britain? The vets on the winning side should be happy, Should be happy with themselves, should be happy with their country and their own people should be happy with them, the British civilians should looking at them as heroes; instead of British civilians making comments like- This is not the Britain we fought for' many British say this and I can easily quote this if you wish me too! The post Governments of Britain and Australia and US really robbed the Allies vets victory. I feel so sorry for WWII vets, it makes me angry when I know WWII vets are not happy because on what happened to their nations after WWII. They, the post governments of WWII and pre-1950's, used these poor men for their own agenda, nothing to do in saving a nation :mad:

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