The New York Times ran the above picture with a nuanced essay that questioned America’s reflexive support of the uniform.
Ironically, the uniform in the photo was jacked up, and the Times had to replace it.
At the risk of piling on — after all, the Times added a correction — what is wrong with this uniform? If you were conducting an inspection, would either of these pass muster?
Correction: August 22, 2011
A picture with an earlier version of this article was posted in error. It showed a uniform with mismatched military insignia, rank and badges. The current image is the one that was published in print editions on Sunday.
And for that matter, what did you think of the article?
The irony is that our soldiers are the last people who are likely to call themselves heroes and are apparently very uncomfortable with this kind of talk. The military understands itself as a group endeavor. As the West Point professor Elizabeth D. Samet recently noted, service members feel uneasy when strangers approach them to — as the well-meaning but oddly impersonal ritual goes — thank them for their service, thereby turning them into paradoxically anonymous celebrities. It was wrong to demonize our service members in Vietnam; to canonize them now is wrong as well. Both distortions make us forget that what they are are human beings.
By the way, before you rail against the mainstream media–perhaps another reflexive move–know that the author of the piece, William Deresiewicz, is an essayist and critic, and the author of “Solitude and Leadership,” an address delivered at West Point in 2009 and widely taught in the armed forces.