Reflections on the  Citizen-Soldier



© 2003 Barry Strauss

From Parameters, Summer 2003, pp. 66-77.

When it comes to war, I have been sheltered from the storm. Too young to have faced the draft, which was last used in the United States in 1973, I did not volunteer for the military. My father, by contrast, was conscripted into the US Army during World War II and saw action in Italy. His father was conscripted into the US Army during World War I and saw action in France. My grandfather’s outfit was gassed; my father dodged shells in the Tuscan hills. One of my father’s cousins fought in the French Resistance; another survived Nazi concentration camps, airplane factories, and a death march, to be liberated by Patton’s Third Army. In my generation, American cousins have served in the US military, foreign cousins served in the French and Israeli armies, and another American cousin was a civilian casualty of the war on terror: He died in New York City in the Twin Towers on 11 September 2001.

As a student of military history, I knew well before 9/11 that I owed my freedom to the sacrifices of others. But the events of that day and the year and more since have underlined that lesson. As a student of the Classics, I also know that republican theory teaches that unless the citizens of a republic serve in their own defense, they risk losing their freedom.

In the United States today, citizens of the republic do serve in their own defense. Yet only a small proportion of us do so, and a smaller proportion than in the generations that preceded us. Between 1940 and 1973, a large proportion of American males were conscripted to serve in the military. Since 1973, conscription has been replaced by recruitment of an all-volunteer force. A professional military of American men and, increasingly, women, defends the nation.

On the whole, the move from conscription to volunteering is excellent news. No one is forced into service, nor is the nation burdened with an overly


large military in an era when improvements in technology require ever less manpower in the armed forces. But there is a trade-off. The personal freedom that the average American gained from the end of the draft 30 years ago has unfortunately not been matched by an increase in either civic duty or sense of self-sacrifice. It is doubtful that the average person today is as knowledgeable about military realities as he was in the days of the draft, and that relative ignorance surely has something to do with the tensions in civil-military relations of recent years.

Few of the politicians who have to make decisions about war and peace actually have the experience of military service. The politicians’ relative ignorance is made worse by a generation-long trend in the American intellectual elite away from military studies. Furthermore, although the volunteer force is by and large representative of the American public in terms of race and class, it is lopsidedly conservative in politics and religion. All things considered, it would be better to have a more representative military.

Yet, recognizing the reality of these problems does not mean advocating a return to conscription. In fact, we do not need to revive the draft. Conscripting young people means taking away their liberty, and the only justification for that is military emergency. Besides, the purpose of the American military is to defend the United States, and since the volunteer force fulfills that purpose, it would make no sense to change it.

The current security crises facing the United States may indeed require a bigger military, but probably not so big as to require a draft. Yet, even if no increase in the number of soldiers proves necessary, there is a modest reform that we should consider: diversifying the number and range of civilians who do a term of service in the military.

The reason has nothing to do with the patriotism or professionalism of the men and women in the military today. In fact, no one could serve their country better than they do. The target audience, rather, is those who do not currently serve in the military.

If the nation has gained something from the end of the draft, it has lost something too. The idea of the citizen-soldier remains alive: it continues among those on active duty, in the reserves, and in the National Guard. Yet the American citizen-soldier is a far less common figure than he was in the era of conscription. In this essay I draw both on family history and political theory to argue for ways in which, short of a new draft, we might persuade a wider cross-section of Americans to become citizen-soldiers.


Warts and All

Somewhere between the valleys of the Somme and the Po, somewhere between the outpost zone and the foxholes, between the lice in the trenches and the bedbugs on the Atlantic crossing, between the gas masks and the hepatitis ward, between the disembodied limbs in the woods above the Meuse River and the rows of corpses on the roads of central Italy, somewhere Meyer Strauss, my grandfather, and Aaron Strauss, my father, must have seen the light. Somewhere it must have dawned on them that the Army is no place for a civilian, that eight months of drilling with broomsticks or 17 weeks of practice with the latest weapons is no substitute for years of specialized training. Somewhere it must have occurred to them that, in a democracy, turning citizens into soldiers is the worst way to staff an army. The worst way, that is, except when their country needs them.

Nor is a conscript army without advantages both for the soldiers and the institution. When citizens serve their country, they gain the sense of community that comes from sharing a common cause. Tempered by a sense of realism that comes from the military experience, they are better able to make decisions about foreign policy. And armies of citizen-soldiers have a way of making officers less authoritarian, more like the nation as a whole. These are the battle-hardened lessons that tens of millions of men learned in the 20th century from their own experience.

When they came home again, they learned, as soldiers unfortunately often do, that a nation can quickly forget its gratitude. After the First World War, for example, America repaid its hundreds of thousands of foreign-born draftees with xenophobia and immigration restrictions. My mother’s family was almost caught in Poland as a result. Had my great-uncle not been a child singing star touring America, whose fans included President Calvin Coolidge—on whose lap the boy wonder once sat—then in 1924 the US State Department would not have taken the trouble to issue special visas for his mother and siblings. One of them was my grandmother. She came through Ellis Island, married my grandfather, and here I sit today. Had the nativists had their way, grandmother would still have been in Piotrków, Poland, when the Nazis marched in.

Yet, however imperfect, American democracy offered rewards to its citizen-soldiers too. Meyer banked on his military service as a way to gain dignity and self-respect. Whatever others said, he knew that he had earned his place as an American. His son, Aaron, felt at home in the country. And when it came his generation’s turn to go off and fight, those who returned were in fact able to reap the rewards of the G.I. Bill for their citizen service.

It is easy to forget just how terrible the experience of war was for them and their fellow soldiers. In recent years, for example, we have celebrated the achievements of what Tom Brokaw called the greatest generation and the camaraderie of what the late Stephen Ambrose called, echoing Shakespeare, a band of brothers. Brokaw was referring to all the Americans who fought in the Second


World War or supported the war effort, and Ambrose meant the riflemen of E Company of the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. These accolades are richly deserved—the riflemen were indeed a fraternity of courage, and the World War II generation made sacrifices from which we still benefit today. And yet, tags like the greatest generation or a band of brothers leave out important details. For example, during World War II few American soldiers saw the front lines, fewer still were riflemen, and few spent the war in the company of the same core group of buddies, nourishing friendships from stateside training camp to V-E or V-J Day. As for the riflemen, as we remember their brotherhood, so should we remember their very high casualty rate.

The truth about the Second World War was much worse than we tend to imagine, even for those whose ride was a lot smoother than that experienced by my father’s cousin, Sam Rosenberg, in the concentration camps. But those who survived the war learned a salutary lesson. Where the Vietnam generation suffered from division or alienation, the World War II generation experienced the sense of community that came from having taken part in a common cause. Where the Vietnam generation distrusted the government and withdrew from public life, their parents respected the government for having saved liberty from the foe and they embraced the public sector that so many of them had once defended with their lives.

In short, citizen-soldiers made good citizens. And citizenship is as important as ever in America today. We are history’s most ambitious experiment in multi-ethnic democracy. There have been many multi-ethnic empires, from ancient Persia to Rome to Russia, but they were not democracies. Ancient democracies, like Athens, were homogeneous, not multi-ethnic. Among modern democracies, only a Canada or India comes close to America’s heterogeneity, but Canada is far less populous than and India less diverse than the United States. We in America, perhaps more than anyplace else, teem with the multi-colored masses of imperial Rome while we also strive for the simple, open-air democracy of five thousand Greeks on a hillside in Athens. We are a New England town meeting in a Los Angeles traffic jam.

Because America is a democracy, no one should feel embarrassed by or at a disadvantage at belonging to a minority group. No one is better than anyone


else because of his or her ethnicity; everyone is free to investigate his roots. In the final analysis, however, democracy depends not on what divides us but on what unites us, not on separate roots but on shared space, not on private but on public life, not on the individual but on the community, not on ancestry but on citizenship.


Ours is an age of privatization and prosperity, an age of individuals, from captains of cyber-industry to celebrities, but not an age of community. This is hardly surprising. Liberalism is the dominant political philosophy of America and the idea that won the Cold War. By liberalism I don’t mean the attenuated notions of current debates between “liberals” and “conservatives” but, rather, classical liberalism. That is the liberalism of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, the doctrine of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the philosophy of private property, the foundation of capitalism. Liberalism stands guard for individual freedom. It is, in short, a noble idea, but it lacks something: Liberalism does not tell us how to live in common. Yet Western thinkers have always wrestled with the search for community. In our lifetimes, many thinkers long looked for the answer in socialism, but that god has been toppled from his pedestal. Some today seek an answer in religion, others in the family.

Only one kind of community can speak to us as countrymen, however, and that is citizenship. An ancient ideal, citizenship is enjoying a current revival among political philosophers. Compared to membership in a family or in the kingdom of heaven, citizenship may be cold comfort. But citizenship is the glue of democracy, the cement that binds individual freedom with equality of opportunity and equality before the law.

One of the most promising approaches to citizenship is found in the work of Princeton philosopher Philip Pettit. Pettit is an advocate of what he calls republicanism, that is, a theory based in the classical republics of Greece and especially Rome.

For republicans, as for modern liberals, liberty is the highest good. But whereas liberalism imagines that liberty is an individual matter, the ancients thought it depended on the community. The original Latin term res publica means “public thing.” A man at home in his castle is a free man, for a liberal; for a republican, he is at the mercy of arbitrary state power without having neighbors on whom he can count to work in common with him. For a republican, the only way to protect liberty is to live in a political system in which the people or their representatives make the law, without interference from a prince or tyrant, and under which the law applies to everyone equally; anything else amounts to servitude. This is a communitarian ideal and an egalitarian one too, because a state that exercises arbitrary power against anyone is capable of exercising it against everyone. Pettit puts things in a nutshell: “To want republican liberty, you have to want republican equality; to realize republican liberty, you have to realize republican community.”1


Defending liberty, therefore, requires a regime in which people not only are free but feel free: it requires, in a word, a republic. To defend republican freedom means developing the habits of eternal vigilance of an active citizenry jealous of violations of its freedoms either by public officials or private citizens. It means that status counts. Evolutionary psychology argues for the importance of symbols as the representation of something tangible: that is why people fight and die over flags. History shows that it is impossible to have a democracy unless you believe in the dignity of the common man, that is, as the Leveler Thomas Rainsborough put it at Putney in 1647, “that the poorest he that is in England has a life to live, as has the greatest he.”2

There is, in short, no democracy without freedom and equality, no freedom and equality without a republic, and no republic without good citizens. Citizens are not born, they are made—and that requires education. It’s a lesson as old as Plato and as contemporary as the problems of the public schools. It will take more than schools, however, to revitalize citizenship in the United States today: It will take citizen service.

Citizen Service

Citizen service in America is nothing new. It already exists. Anyone who wants to demonstrate his or her patriotism by risking his life for his country is already free to volunteer for the armed forces. Citizens are equally free to volunteer in the civilian sphere in AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps. But these latter organizations are tiny, occupying less than 50,000 volunteers a year. Even modest increases in their size might yield overall improvements in public-spiritedness.

The military is a separate matter, however. In order to increase citizen service, we should not reestablish the draft. Rather, we should make a modest reform in the all-volunteer force. Without expanding its size, the volunteer force could be changed to include somewhat fewer professionals and somewhat more citizen-soldiers. As Charles Moskos has proposed, citizen-soldiers could serve for two-year terms or, after a six-month training period, join the reserves for an extended period. To increase the number of college graduates in the military, Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs could be expanded. Expanding the National Guard would be another way to increase the nonprofessional portion of the US military, and one with local roots because the Guard is organized at the state rather than the federal level.3

Citizen service in the United States makes strange bedfellows, from left to right, from peaceniks to generals. A cynic might be tempted to say that there must be something wrong in anything that so many different people like. And indeed there is something peculiar about the idea of civic service. It has a Cold War dinosaur quality about it, lumbering along on feet-of-clay assumptions about the unity of the nation-state, the homogeneity of the citizenry, and the inevitability of war, perhaps even reeking of what W. H. Auden called, in speaking of dictators,


“The elderly rubbish they talk / to an apathetic grave.” But there is something right about citizen service too.

Citizen service builds on one of the deepest of human needs: the need to work together in a common cause for the common good. It builds on the need to make sacrifices for a greater purpose than oneself. It builds on what may be an evolutionary instinct from humanity’s earlier days, when tribal cooperation was necessary in the struggle to hunt animals and survive.

Citizen service recognizes something about war that, even as friends of peace, we need to recognize: something disturbing but important. War is one of the greatest of human evils, but all that war yields is not evil. There is, in fact, something ennobling about war, about service in support of a just cause.

As the culmination of a young person’s public education, and in connection with public schooling, citizen service would teach certain fundamental principles of a democratic republic: freedom, equality, independence, community, mixing, activity, and deliberation in groups. In the civilian sphere, it would speak to needs that are not adequately addressed by the profit sector, as represented by such positions as tutors and teachers’ aides; health care aides in hospitals, hospices, outpatient facilities, mental health care facilities; providers of transportation or home care; and day-care providers. In the military sphere, it would speak to potentially serious problems in the current relationship between soldiers and civilians.

Defense Department analyses suggest that the volunteer military is relatively representative of race and class in American society.4 That is good news, but it is not the whole story. Since Vietnam, two opposite sociological trends have characterized the American military: While racial minorities have ascended the ladders of powers in greater numbers, and while women have become a notable presence in the ranks, liberals have become relatively uncommon. The military today is far more conservative and evangelical than American society as a whole, far more likely to vote Republican. Anne Loveland has documented the growth of evangelical religion in the military. Richard Kohn argues that the American officer corps of the mid-1990s was more conservative and partisan than at any time in its history. He wrote, “It began thinking, voting, and even espousing Republicanism with a capital R.”5


None of this is particularly surprising. Professional armies usually tend to be conservative. Moreover, none of it is anyone’s fault, especially not the military’s: soldiers, after all, are free to vote and pray as they wish. The problem is not that soldiers choose to be conservative, but that liberals choose not to be soldiers.

Why does it matter if that is the case? Armies may not need a broad range of citizens in them, but citizens need to be in armies. It is not good for the republic to have the military by and large represent only one portion of its body politic. It is not good for the civilians who make decisions about the military to have so little personal knowledge of the military. Arguably, if civilian politicians understood the military better, then the kind of military-civilian tensions that have bedeviled American politics in recent years would be reduced.

It matters because a republic needs citizens who are willing, if necessary, to make sacrifices on its behalf. And if only one subset of the citizenry makes those sacrifices, then in some sense there is no equality of shared risk, and the republic itself is attenuated.

And yet not so attenuated as to justify a return to the draft. A modest increase in the number of citizen-soldiers will help, but making a success of that reform will require education. And that, indeed, is an arena in which liberals can make a difference.

Those of us in academe can work to reverse the anti-military bias of many of America’s universities. Military recruiters and ROTC programs should be welcomed back to campus; civilian faculty should work with military faculty rather than ignore or isolate them; in particular, joint civilian-military faculty committees should work to ensure that ROTC courses deserve regular academic credit, and faculty senates should vote to restore that credit; ROTC students should be congratulated for serving their country rather than ostracized; veterans should be made to feel welcome on campus; young people should be encouraged to take as seriously as possible the option of serving in the military after college. Diplomatic and military history are thriving as subjects of study and research in some of our nation’s universities, but in too many of them, including some of the best institutions, they have been swept to the sidelines or abolished. We need to bring them back from the margins into the mainstream.

It is not true, as some claim, that a person who has not worn his country’s uniform cannot send his countrymen into battle, much less plan military strategy. There is no more truth to this argument than to the proposition that only former cancer patients can treat someone with cancer or work on a cure. Although the experience of combat is very valuable to anyone wishing to understand war, it can also be misleading, since no two wars are alike. Besides, the individual soldier on the battlefield rarely gets a clear picture of the broader course of the war. The best preparation for making decisions about war and peace and military strategy is not combat, but the study of military and diplomatic history.

It is true, however, that those of us who have not served our country in the military, like most of those in my generation, are in a morally weak position when


it comes to advising young people today. But we can at least advise the young to give a fair hearing to others, and particularly to those who have served their country. And we can point out that the more young people today serve in the military, the better will be their future ability to advise their children about civic duty.

The current dogma in American elite universities too often amounts to saying that since war is bad, soldiers are bad as well. Little attention is paid to the idea of a just war or to the sacrifice that a soldier makes for his country. Instead, we need to teach our students that war is bad but surrender is worse; that war should be a policy of last resort but that, alas, it must sometimes be resorted to. We should teach them that it may not be easy to do a term of service in the military, but it is noble.

In any case, to give up the opportunity to exercise one’s responsibilities as a citizen means breaking faith with those who struggled to win that opportunity. Freedom means defending yourself, not depending on others to defend you. That is the lesson that my cousins taught me in Israel, the same lesson that my father and grandfather learned in the US Army.

To Renew Our Country

I first met my cousin Jean-Pierre on the Internet. His last name is Stroweis, mine Strauss, and both come from a common source: Sztrowajs. Jean-Pierre was born the same year as me, in 1953, except in France rather than the United States. About a century earlier, his great-grandfather and my great-grandfather, brothers, had said goodbye forever when the latter left the small town in Poland where they had grown up. That city is Staszów, about 75 miles northwest of Cracow. Eventually Jean-Pierre’s family made its way to France. Jean-Pierre’s father fought in the Resistance during World War II and retired from the French army as a colonel. Jean-Pierre did a year of military service in France before emigrating to Israel, where he also did military service. I visited him and his family in Jerusalem.

A year after my journey to Jerusalem, I saw Jean-Pierre again. This time, it was in America, where he had come on business, after which he joined up with me. On a hot August evening, we found ourselves on the Mall in Washington, D.C. At my suggestion, we were heading for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

I had never been there before. This surprised Jean-Pierre, as well it might have. After all, he had been to the wall before, and he was neither a military historian nor an American. I had made previous trips to Washington, and plenty of them. Yet somehow I had never made my way to the wall.

It was not through lack of knowledge. I knew that it was simple and eloquent, a black granite structure, V-shaped and cut into the earth of the Mall. I knew that the two wings of the wall—each about 250 feet long, as I read—rose from ground level to a height of ten feet, as one approached their angle of intersection, while the visitor descended, thereby being drawn into their simple message, the names of 58,209 Americans killed or missing in action in Vietnam. I


knew that this was a people’s monument, whose visitors left flowers and photographs and dog-tags and other personal messages to the departed. I knew that it seemed to move everyone who saw it, and still I did not visit it. Or maybe that is why I had not visited it, for fear of the emotions it would awaken. But I had come a long way from Staszów, and reckoned that I had learned something by now about waking sleeping dogs.

So I went to the wall. It reminded me of other walls I had seen: the wall of the Warsaw Ghetto, whose last remaining segment, a fragment of red brick and mortar, still survives in an apartment courtyard; the walls shoring up Western Front trenches that continue to stand a ghostly sentry in northern France today; the Wailing Wall, or Western Wall, all that is mortal of the Second Temple, which I had last visited with Jean-Pierre in Jerusalem a year before.

The names recorded on this wall, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, reminded me of other lists of names I had scanned, from the microfilmed register of births, deaths, and marriages in 19th-century Staszów, to the roll of officers of the US 33d Division, to the Red Cross inventory of Polish Jews missing between 1942 and 1945. The names of American soldiers, fallen in Vietnam, etched in black stone, recalled the inventory of German soldiers, fallen in the First World War, carved in black stones marking common graves in cemetery after lonely cemetery in the French countryside.

Yet this wall is unique. For this was of my generation. There but for the luck of birth might have been my name.

“You must know people who died in Vietnam,” Jean-Pierre said. I don’t, though, and that’s the point. I know precious few people who even served. And that was a matter not only of birth but of class. There is all the difference in the world between my generation of Americans and his generation of Israelis or even of Frenchmen, for both Israel and France had near-universal military service in the late 1960s. In those countries, a male born around 1950 had to serve; in America, if he were middle-class and college-bound, he generally did not. Even with the draft in effect, only about 41 percent of American men of the Vietnam generation served in the military.6

The Holocaust Museum sits not far from the wall, off another part of the Mall. Jean-Pierre and I visited it too during our stay in Washington. It is a powerful place and a magnificent memorial. Yet, though it moved me, it did not move me as much as the wall did. Vivid as it is, the Holocaust Museum cannot recapture the immediacy of, say, a trip to the site of Auschwitz. And gripping as it is, it cannot help but be a museum, that is, a place that filters experience into lessons: a place where, by mastering information, the observer can absorb terrible facts. A museum is necessarily clinical, and as a professor of history I can walk through it with the detachment and assurance of a doctor. “Ah, yes, Hitler’s rise to power,” I say to myself as I pass the exhibit, “I’ve studied that.”

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is not a museum. It is outdoors, it has no opening and closing hours, and it has no special appeal to the educated. As we file


by, we give an appearance of ordinariness. And so we are. My erudition deserts me. The wall connects me to a younger, unsophisticated self who hadn’t mastered the art of ducking before the punch lands. I am no professor here, but just a kid, the one who once watched the flickering images of the Vietnam War on television and who now—reflected in the mirror-like stone, among the names of the Americans who gave their lives—sees the Americans of today. I am a kid who, buffeted by the debates of the adults and surrounded by the tumult of the sixties, waited for a draft number that was never called, and took refuge in his good luck. If I did not evade service, neither did I volunteer. I am the kid who knew that, unlike his father and grandfather before him, he would not have to serve. Somewhere between the place where the names begin on a low stretch of wall and the place where, as you continue walking, descending a relentless gradual slope until the names now tower over you, ten feet high—somewhere it hit me. I am alive; they are dead. All the rationalizations, all the sophistication, all the protests, all the theories, all turn cold on the icy, polished surface of the names.

The wall powerfully stirs one’s emotions. We see the names of the soldiers and feel sorry that they died. They were of my generation. And while, in all honesty, I’m not sorry that I didn’t volunteer to serve in Vietnam, I am sorry that I didn’t serve my country in some way.

In ancient Athens, where they first inscribed in stone the names of the fallen, every year a prominent man would deliver a funeral oration to celebrate their patriotism as the men were laid to rest. The theme of the most famous of those orations is democracy. It was delivered around January 431 B.C. by Pericles, Athens’ leading statesman. Pericles described a society dedicated to freedom and equal justice to all, to obeying the laws and working hard, to openness and cosmopolitanism, to daring and deliberation. Above all, Athens was a city whose people were devoted to the public good. He said: “Some of us have the ability to supervise both their own and the city’s business, while others, though they pursue their own business, still judge public matters well; we are the only people who think that those who take no part at all in public business are not merely apolitical but useless.”7

The city of Athens was the people who worked for it and fought for it and died for it, rich or poor: nothing more, and nothing less. That was democracy, and so, I realized at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, is this. This is democratic space.

The Holocaust Museum is a monument about hatred. It is a warning of what lies down the slippery slope when we deny each other our common humanity, and when we fail to enshrine that humanity in communities in which every citizen is equal before the law. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a warning too, but of a different kind. It is not a monument about hatred—for there is no thought of enmity toward the North Vietnamese here—but a monument to fraternity, equality, and liberty. The men and women who died, true to each other, and humble when their country called, gave their lives to defend our liberty. They were citizen-soldiers. And they warn us of the fragility of citizenship, of how it is shaken when the gov-


ernment fights an undeclared war and buys off the people by dividing them into the powerful or sophisticated, who do not have to fight it, and the weak or stern, who do. If American politics has been out of joint since the 1960s, if cynicism has become the coin of the realm, if left and right share a suspicion that self-government is but a broken reed, then all have grown up in the ruins of American idealism that constitute a quite different monument from the Vietnam War.

The words “This Memorial Was Built with Private Contributions from the American People” are part of two explanatory inscriptions on the wall. In the manner of the 1980s they mix privatization and patriotism, but they retain their power nonetheless, because the reference to the American people reminds us that our country is a republic. In a republic, the highest calling is service to the common good. In a democratic republic, every citizen is called on, in turn, to make some small contribution to that service. The reward, in turn, is to earn one’s spurs as a citizen. To do that, we must not only know who we are, but what to do. That is, we must privilege not only identity, that holy grail of so many of today’s intellectuals: we must privilege politics. If politics is too important to leave to the politicians, if the political system is in desperate need of reform, if we are finally to shake off the dust of the 1960s, then we must practice politics. To expand our commitment to citizen service is the way to begin. We owe no less to those whose names are on the wall.

So I thought as I neared the end of our long, sad, meditative walk. So the two Sztrowajs boys, descendants of a peddler who had once stopped in the woods at night to save a man from the wolves, the two distant cousins, one who had served as a citizen-soldier and the other who had but thought of doing so, one who left home to find a new country and the other who wishes to renew his country, finished paying their respects. Leaving the wall, we came back up to ground level and in the distance caught sight of the dome of the US Capitol, against the sky as if floating toward heaven.


1. Philip Pettit, Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government (Oxford, Eng.: Oxford Univ. Press, 1997), p. 126.

2. On evolutionary psychology, see Robert Wright, The Moral Animal: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology (New York: Pantheon, 1995). On Thomas Rainsborough, see A. S. P. Woodhouse, ed., Puritanism and Liberty (London: Dent, 1938), p. 53.

3. Charles Moskos, A Call to Civic Service: National Service for Country and Community (New York: Free Press, 1988); Moskos, “Time to Bring Back the Draft?” The American Enterprise, December 2001, pp. 16-17; Eliot A. Cohen, “The Civil-Military Balance,” in The Demilitarization of the Military, Report of a Defense Task Force Chaired by Hon. John F. Lehman, Jr., and Dr. Harvey Sicherman (Philadelphia: Foreign Policy Research Institute, March 1997), pp. 31-38.

4. See Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness), “Conscription Threatens Hard-Won Achievements and Military Readiness,” 9 January 2003,

5. Richard Kohn, “Out of Control: The Crisis in Civil-Military Relations,” The National Interest, No. 35 (Spring 1994), p. 7.

6. Lawrence M. Baskir and William A. Strauss, “The Vietnam Generation,” in The Wounded Generation: America After Vietnam, ed. A. D. Horne (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1981), p. 6.

7. Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, Book 2, par. 40, sentence 2, my translation.

Barry Strauss is professor of history and classics at Cornell University. He writes on war, politics, and sports from ancient to modern times. Strauss is currently at work on a book on the battle of Salamis (Simon & Schuster, forthcoming, 2004). He also has a work in progress on the history of his family at war, from which this article is drawn. He has written or edited seven books and is the author of numerous scholarly papers and reviews.

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Reviewed 15 May 2003. Please send comments or corrections to