Attitudes towards veterans

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

  1. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Surely! Surely! My post gives a very good example of how others see the Vets. For I described how they are treated, that alone shows how they are seen. Can you get any better information about how others, and the nations sees and treats their men.,,,Now I dont want to get into an argument about the subject...Apart from saying this. IF we are not aware of how the Vets are seen. Then where do you go for that info... I tried to give an honest and straightfoward answer ... That it seem s has been thrown back in my face..
  2. gliderrider

    gliderrider Senior Member

    Well, maybe if you say,which veterans you want us to talk about, might help. WW2, Afghanistan or Rorkes drift.
  3. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Funny - I'd been meaning to do a thread about 'Hero', as one on WW2F a while back still crosses my mind quite often.

    'Heroes' - Overused.
    As I've said before on here; what really interests me about servicemen in the mass conflicts of the first part of the C20th, is that they were first and foremost just ordinary Men & Women (mostly, and on the whole).
    Obviously, in extraordinary circumstances, and many did extraordinary things, but they surely had & have the same loves, hates, prejudices, preferences, contradictions, and all the other ethereal things, both 'good' & 'bad', that you might find making up any member of that most complex of organisms - the human being.

    'The Greatest Generation' thing leaves me utterly cold.
    More general automatic hero-worship because someone put on a Uniform also leaves me cold - I don't like what I see as an American approach to military men, where service can be automatically wildly praised, and the very fact of being in an armed force can convey apparent total respect in all circumstances - it's not the way I'm wired, and I find it a little peculiar how it seems to be crossing the Atlantic of late.
    (Don't be alarmed, Septics - I quite like you as a whole, but I think we'd be being a bit childish if we weren't able to disagree or comment in a hopefully civilised manner ;). )

    Those weird round-robin emails expressing some mawkish sentiment about 'the soldier', in bad poetry, or simply made-up contexts, also leave me completely cold - a quite counter-productive method of campaign or promotion in my case, as there's usually a socio-political subtext to the drivel contained therein.

    Why the abject hero-worship thing? (Which definitely exists, and seems to sometimes flower most strongly on the Internet.)
    Lord knows - I do wonder if the US's leaning in that direction are perhaps connected to a certain guilt at much rather rough contemporary & postwar treatment of the Vietnam generation, and maybe an over-compensation thereof.
    I also wonder if it can rise up after any war that's potentially seen as a 'bad' war in execution, political motivations or other complications (if not 'bad', maybe 'not entirely good', or 'very complex' is a better descriptor).
    (I can't stand by the points in this paragraph overly strongly, as they're speculation really, a passing but oft-repeated thought - don't slay me for wondering, and it's subjective stuff by it's very nature...)

    I know full well that I'll never understand what military veterans might have seen or done, and appreciate that it's always going to be a somewhat closed club to those who haven't been on the 'two-way-range', or been part of a mass military machine, but I also don't feel I have to really understand, or attempt to overcompensate in my lack of understanding by automatic slathering praise.
    I have respect for the veteran, whether they went to a 'hot' war, or sat waiting for the Third Shock Army to come crashing over the Cold-war borders in between bouts of heavy drinking, but I'd also expect to be able to look them in the eye, human-being to human-being without cringing in some way, or apologising for my own determinately civvie status.

    Most all British servicemen who have been or are personal friends or acquaintances of mine seem to share the distrust of Hero-worship and auto-adulation too; 'well I signed the piece of paper' is an oft-repeated phrase.
    If you'd walked up to my much-missed Grandad (40+ years of service to Kings/Queen, from boy soldier to Lt.Col.) and heaped any overheated stuff on him, he'd quite possibly have told you to F off, in the nicest possible way, or just been utterly bemused... He would likely neither have wanted it or appreciated it.
    I think Wills's post would agree with that view.

    If the above, or other's thoughts on similar lines, might offend anyone, well there you go - offence is taken in my view, not really given - I'm glad the old chaps who once wore a uniform come and chat with us about the Second War and other things, and we put the Purple Usernames up so people can see that they might have a 'horse's mouth' on hand when chatting about WW2 history, but I still feel it's much more fun/interesting when those blokes who deign to join us are treated mostly as normal members in the greater forum context; 'one of the chaps', when mooching here. And I get the impression that most of 'em would wish it remain so rather than be subjected to too much overt 'pedestal' status?
    I often enjoy the disagreements and unrelated-to-WW2 chatter that pops up as much as I do the nuggets of 'first-hand' history the 'Purple' chaps bring.
    (Though an important point re. that 'first-hand' view in the greater historical context, is that one chap's perspective or memory is just that - a snapshot of history from a personal perspective - context is always important & two people who participated in a given event may walk away with completely different perspectives, an identical view, or even completely miss what may prove to be a primary factor or facet - subjectivity will often muddy the waters no matter what the event being discussed - omnipotent perception, recollection, or understanding, is pretty rare...)


    I know I bang on about it sometimes, but this is still a significant book for me about the more 'human' side of WW2:
    To the Victor the Spoils: Sean Longden: Books
  4. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I do beg your forgiveness for not fully understanding your initial posting and obviously misunderstood the last piece of the first line ' as Others see the vets '
    The "others " - all eight of them against three vets of the WW2 conflict have alternately supported and not supported your argument and it has caused you some grief that you have been so misunderstood - and before you retire in a snit and abandon the thread - if I may advance a theory that perhaps the Vets had their education disrupted by the onset of that war of 1939/45 and many failed to pursue that lost education after the war and not being accorded the benefit of some governments of a FREE four year university education.

    Not speaking for Sapper BUT he was severely injured and under care for many years and somehow managed to become an Atomic Energy Engineer for some time until his injuries finally overwhelmed his ability to function in that role - having spent some time with him and his dear wife on a recent trip to the UK - I was shattered to learn that for 100% attendance Sheila is paid the magnificent sum of 4 GBP's per week....and on matters WW2 he has every right to speak as he finds things and doesn't need a relative newcomer
    whose public profile is blank - telling both he and Heidi to find another thread for their a longer serving member on this and the BBC WW2 series - I have always understood that ONLY the moderators had the right to conclude any thread.

    I find your attitude to be insensitive and offensive and point out as gliderider has that it might help if we knew WHICH Vets are we discussing ....
    canuck likes this.
  5. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    It always takes while to read one of Adam's 'Ramblings' or the rarer 'rants' but I think he has hit the nail on the head there.
  6. heidi xx

    heidi xx Discharged

    Thank you.

    I'm thinking I am the only young member that understands how peed off the Allied WWII vets are. All these young people; quoting Rule Britannia whilst WWII British vets are feeling like a heap of nothing and not happy with life and themselves. I understand why and I am not happy with anything either and I never fought in WWII. How would anyone of you feel (the younger generation) after Winning the war, your nation looks like it lost WWII whilst the losers country looks like they won the war? I wouldn't be surprised If German vets were more happier than the Allied vets today.

    The British vets are treated like crap in their own nation and none sees them as heroes because of this Pre-WWII modern B/S politics that destroyed Britain. It's all about looking after everyone else living within our boarders and British, Aussies and Americans are seen as nothing.

    In Australia, A Vietnam Aussie vet get's 1c extra in his pension whilst new comers to Australia get over $1000 a week,free housing and free car. The illegal migrants get more than the vets.

    I understand why vets are really peed off, and quite frankly, I do not blame you guys for being peed off.

    Modern soldiers I have no respect for. They know what world they are fighting for, Palestine anyone? pfft.. war criminals, poor Palestinians.
  7. Callisto

    Callisto Twitter ye not

    i am thankful that some members needed no clarification to get to the point.

    I totally agree, and that book is excellent.

  8. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    But you are 'Firefoxy', 'Sassie J' and maybe even Ally, aren't you.
    Sorry to do this on what could be an interesting thread, but we've banned you at least twice before, mate - and it took a fair while to remove the bizarre Firefoxy posts... Cheerio again.

  9. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    I think Bexley was on to something with his reference to "hero" being very much media driven. That dynamic accelerated after 911 when anyone wearing a uniform, firefighter or police, seemed to be granted the hero status. As Adam has noted, it is much more pronounced in the U.S. where there often seems to be unconditional support for the military and the hero tag thrown out automatically.
    More recently, I think the advanced ages of our WW2 vets has influenced the increased application of the hero label.
    I will freely admit to showing deference to the veterans on this forum and elsewhere. That is entirely an act of respect and an acknowledgment of their sacrifice and contribution. I do make a distinction between those vounteers who saw combat or were in harms way as opposed to a conscript who served well behind the lines. The two experiences cannot be compared.
    I particularly respect the civilian volunteers. At the end of the day, they were there and lived it. While not all may be reliable or articulate witnesses to those events, they cannot be discounted either.
    Some might define the heroes as those who were decorated and recognized for some heroic act but I'm sceptical on that count. While I fully accept that most decorations were fully earned and justified, the entire process was so tainted by politics and personalities as to be an inconsistent measuring stick.
    Almost without exception, the vets I have known have been excessively modest and self effacing. They have not asked for hero status nor do they see themselves that way. The men they call heroes, most who never came home, are probably most deserving of the title.
  10. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Given that you have only graced this forum since July, with a meagre 27 posts, you may not be familiar with the fact that threads are very often like conversations. They meander around and may go off on tangents from time to time. Sometimes they come back to the original topic and sometimes not.
    The fact that you began the thread does confer any ownership. Heidi has as much right to state an opinion as you and quite frankly, you appear insufferably arrogant in the manner in which you address forum members.

    Hope Santa puts some humility in your stocking!
  11. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    I hope in what follows that I am sticking to the original intention of the thread.

    The free-and-easy use of the term 'hero' does bother me too, and it is heard even more here in the States than in the UK. It is not a term I use about combat veterans, at least partly because veterans themselves seem reluctant to use it. I honor the experience of combat soldiers and I am grateful to them because their sacrifices benefited others, but I have read too much about war and know too much about human nature to believe that all soldiers are heroic. Yes, sometimes men and women do astoundingly brave things in combat, things that are so extraordinary that even their comrades are in awe, but the great majority simply do their jobs as best they can. Mind you, those jobs are so physically dangerous and psychologically intense that I couldn't do them for five minutes, and I have very great respect for those who can do such jobs at all.

    Of course, a minority of soldiers do their jobs poorly or seek to evade them; any honest veteran will tell you that every unit has its share of ratbags and deadheads. Combat being what it is even men with brilliant records will sometimes falter, and soldiers are often candid about this. ("Run? I put my skates on!") Nor are heroic soldiers and medal-winners necessarily good men, as civilians tend to assume. Sometimes they are not even very good soldiers; many combat men are wary of fire-eaters and medal hunters, because they can get you killed.

    I can admire some heroic soldiers, but it is admiration from a bit of a distance; I don't know what makes such men tick. But I can understand guys who are just trying to do their jobs, and my respect for such men may be all the deeper for that reason. "Hero" is a word I use as little as possible, and it's a word that has become badly debased.
    canuck likes this.
  12. urqh

    urqh Senior Member

    Yeah....most of what he says....Apart from the booze bit...the 3rd shock army wasn't enough to drive me to drink while waiting..I was waiting for the Polish Airborne regt that was destined to arrive and bayonet me and family in married quarters...Who'd have guessed it...Now I employ em..
  13. gliderrider

    gliderrider Senior Member

    But again i ask,what veterans are you wanting an answer on.

    Because public attitudes change and differ depending on what war-conflict-fight in the pub you are asking on. Because some wars are 'sexier' than others, who makes a fuss for those who fought in Aden or were wounded in Cyprus.

    If WW2 then whilst Sapper is in your eyes mudding the waters,he is actually giving you an answer. For if that is how he was/is treated then that is how he is seen by the great unwashed.

    Maybe another question should be how do Veterans treat Veterans.

    Should we perceive men and woman who served in the Forces as Heroes, or someone doing their job. What makes a charity call men who have lost limbs Heroes, rather than unlucky. (My mate lost both legs and does not think he is a Hero)
  14. urqh

    urqh Senior Member

    Heidi, If you would like to pm me I will tell you exactly what a 100 percent war pensioner get for his or her pension payments and the rest of the monies not generally admitted to by many...We are not as hard done to as you would think...Money is not the issue. Although if any war pensioner of whatever age group is not getting his entitlements then he or she needs to get their act together. As as with civies, no one is going to come calling and handing it out on a plate. The benefiits of a 100 percent war pension should leave no war pensioner counting his or her cents. Anyone want to argue that off thread pm me for the real proof..Money should not be an issue.
    Jonathan Ball likes this.
  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    When I think back I think it started around the time Wooten Bassett started to get media attention. When I was serving towards the end of my (2005 ish) career I seem to recall the government starting to encourage us to wear our uniforms in public. It was an odd U Turn for us as our first thoughts were SOPs said no uniform in public because of the IRA threat despite the threat being very low at the time in my opinion. I do now see the odd soldier in uniform in public, mainly at one of Leeds main hospitals and find it rather odd-especially when members of the public go up to them to shake their hand etc. All rather cringworthy and the look of F*** off and leave me alone on the squaddies face says it all.

    I guess the two above comments about the media at Bassett and the political move to wear uniforms in public kind of confirm where it comes from. I can't help but think the racist groups in the UK like the BNP haven't had a hand indivertly it causing it to happen as well. Some of the areas near where I live, residents fly the UF and GC in their front garden, but sadly in most cases I suspect for all the wrong reasons.

    What ever the reasons for the move towards everyone in uniform being a hero I can say it's come a long way forward since my return from Iraq in Aug 2003- I was told to strip my uniform off before I went on Post Op Tour Leave-No one was allowed to leave the garrison wearing their desert uniform as it was upsetting the local retards. I had to wear my PT kit when I left as I never had the luxury of taking civvies to war with me-I had a a great heroes welcome home, no drums or trumpets for me :lol:

    Ps I hope it doesn't flow over into the emergency services-Not sure I could cope with being a Triple Hero ;)
  16. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Trust my great mate Tom to join in. The Saintly one sends her love Tom mate.
    So let us delve just a little into how "others" see us as heros...Or not. First. Who are the others to judge the Vets .have they experienced what it is like to get out of a hole in the early morning, your uniform drenched with dew and go into action under shell mortar and small arms fire?
    Do others know how it feels to cross a canal at night in a canvas boat, under fire from SS fanatics ...Or have they ever dashed to get some food and arrive back losing thr best part...have they ever experienced the this...
    It is not only images and scenes that remain with one through the years, but also sounds, sounds that can remind one of times long past. To day, (58 years ago) We were going to take Caen! We had now reached the high ground on the left hand rout into the City of Caen, this dusty road that looked down on the Colombelles industrial area on the outskirts of Caen, with the high building of the ironworks far below, all rusty and gaunt. From our vantage point it was possible to see for miles down below and the ground spread out all round in a wide panoramic view.
    Blissfully unaware that the area was still in German hands and that he was watching our every move, (we had been told that the 51st Highland div had taken it) After having a long look at the ground down below we the carried on sweeping and clearing our way forward, to ensure that the way was free from the Enemy and from mines. The Enemy soon put a stop to this, we had just entered and cleared a farm house when all hell was let loose, from the tall rusty looking steel works down below, came a tremendous barrage of shell fire. Point blank shell fire, where one does not hear the shells coming until the last split second, when the incoming fire sounds like an express train with the scream of shells, with violent explosions and tearing shrapnel, the farm house exploded in a great shower of splintered wood and then came down about my shoulders, the flying debris, the continuing scream and flashing fire, the rippling explosion of the shells, an intense barrage, the swirling smoke and pandemonium and ones whole being gripped with fear. The moans and cries of mortally wounded men, my mouth dry and choked with dust. After the fire died down I started to extricate myself, covered in dirt and dust and splintered wood, the bitter stench of cordite.
    When in the distance, I heard the sound of the bagpipes, above all that noise, I could hear the skirl of the Scots pipes, when I got out of the rubble I looked down the dusty track and there he was, nonchalantly marching slowly towards us, this piper, khaki kilt swaying from side to side, as he made his way forward concentrating on his playing. Sounds of war! Whenever I hear the pipes I must admit to having a great big lump in my throat, I have been into battle with the sound of the pipes and I cannot hear them without being deeply moved.
  17. Callisto

    Callisto Twitter ye not

    i didn't differentiate because in my eyes there is no need to. i realise some do, rather cack-handedly as in a couple of previous replies, but now you brought it up more intelligently, i agree there are conflicts which are not "sexy". like a lot of us i know veterans of NI, no one wants to know about that particular can of worms either. However, a person might see a GSM on their chest and walk up to them on say Remembrance Sunday and thank them overly profusely "for their service" which leaves them wearing one of those fixed grins that says it all. And that is what i wished to discuss.
    your last comment tallies with my own experiences. Family have also suffered injuries, some before the creation of the NHS, yet some have the attitude that they should be deemed heroes for their misfortune, have it thrust upon them as a consolation. the old adage was oft bandied about by them - that the only 'heroes' were the ones who never returned.

    TTH "doing their job" is something we hear a lot, and i much prefer to hear that kind of British self-deprication. It can be quite illuminating in itself, to the moniker of hero which is foisted upon many without reference to facts.

    And yes Drew5233 hero is also bandied about with reference to emergency services, and although i see is as symptomatic of the same shift in attitude by the public, let's stick to from 'Tommy this ... to hero that' for this thread please.
  18. gliderrider

    gliderrider Senior Member

    Do you then think, that the public have been coerced into waving the flag by the media? That the public have to now, be one for the boys, or is it purely the fact,that the public have always been for the boys, but have felt unable to express this, until the media fell in love with the forces.

    I would say somewhere along the line, respect was lost and replaced by this at times ott appreciation.

    Going back to a ww2 thought, we have to remember that a lot of the population were exposed to death and danger, which maybe means that this 'era' looks at things differently, a kind of we all went through it,so stuff your hero worship.

    Where today, it is a way of feeling of belonging of being part of the club so to speak. Problem is being a 'veteran' myself makes it easier to see what you are going on about than you think.

    Probably not the best time to write after being on the pop for a while :)
  19. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    Great post.

    In the US, anyone who gets killed in a tragedy isn't called a victim, they are called a hero, no matter the circumstances.

    The Greatest Generation term got a huge boost here by a maudlin book and subsequent movie by Tom Brokaw in the nineties. I think the hype was summed up best by a cartoon I saw at the time that showed a bunch of cranky WWII vets in a nursing home yelling, 'Everybody but us stinks!!!" :)
  20. urqh

    urqh Senior Member

    There are many vetrans on both this and the ww2f site. Many have not seen thngs as Tom and Sapper have thats for sure. Some like Drew have seen their bit..Some like me just served but ended up suffereing just for pulling the uniform on.

    All will have their definition of Hero...Perhaps as an aside maybe their perceptions of hero will differ from the general public which I think is what the O.P is really talking about.

    I have my hero's 2 I served with, one just being my dad for all he did plus his ww2 service...These are personal hero's...The perception though that all soldiers, sailors and airmen of today is a hero is a real one..The media push it..Its there daily. I just hope that like our fellow servicemen whenever we here may have us...would not dream of falling for the hero thing themselves.

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