When I returned to Princeton for my fifth reunion, I had been back from Vietnam for five months and was still on active duty. I left my uniform in New York City because I was afraid that if I wore it on campus, it would be defaced. Someone had arranged for a panel of graduating seniors to address our class on the evils of the war in Vietnam as part of our reunion.
Excoriating the troops has since become rare. I suspect part of the reason for the change was that such attacks proved to be politically counterproductive. Still, the “support the troops” replacement seems to be expressed more in terms of charity than respect.
Expressions of support for veterans, particularly combat veterans, often involve implicitly or expressly defining them as a disadvantaged group that, like other such groups, needs special assistance from normal folks.
Changing the script, as suggested in “Tell Me Your Story” (On the Campus, Dec. 4), isn’t terribly convincing. If you want to demonstrate that you value rather than pity veterans, become one.