Monday, December 15, 2008

Red State Patriotism

Ed Lasky has a post on the American Thinker website that will really make you think. The post, titled "What's the 'Highest Form' of Patriotism Again?", discusses an article published in the Washington Post which summarizes a study looking at whether, or not, there is a regional pattern to which states contribute volunteers for the all-volunteer military. As anyone who has served in the military can tell you, it seems that there is a regional pattern; the Red States contribute more volunteer for the all-volunteer military than the Blue States. Is anyone surprised?

According to the Washington Post article,

"Since 1970, the population of the United States has grown by about 50 percent, from roughly 200 million to 300 million. Over the same period, the number of active-duty armed forces has fallen approximately 50 percent, from 3 million to 1.4 million. A far smaller percentage of the citizenry now serves in the military.

Whereas in 1969 13 percent of Americans were veterans, in 2007 only 8 percent of us were.

Even more important than these general demographic shifts is the change wrought by the end of the draft in 1973. Until then, military service was distributed pretty evenly across regions. But that is no longer true. The residential patterns for current veterans and the patterns of state-level contributions of new recruits to the all-volunteer military have a distinct geographic tilt. And tellingly, the map of military service since 1973 aligns closely with electoral maps distinguishing red from blue states.

In 1969, the 10 states with the highest percentage of veterans were, in order: Wyoming, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, California, Oregon, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio, Connecticut and Illinois.

In 2007, the 10 states with the highest percentage of post-Vietnam-era veterans were, in order: Alaska, Virginia, Hawaii, Washington, Wyoming, Maine, South Carolina, Montana, Maryland and Georgia.Over the past four decades, which states have disappeared from the top 10? California, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Illinois, all big blue states that have voted Democratic in the past five presidential elections. These states and another blue state, New York, which ranked 12th in 1969, are among the 10 states with the lowest number of post-Vietnam vets per capita. New Jersey comes in 50th of the 50 states; just 1 percent of current residents have served in the military since Vietnam.

Mr. Lasky says that Blue-staters may try to pass the lack of Blue-state volunteers as "true patriotism" because they are brave enough to dissent. Probably, they tend to pass everything "military" off as outside the norm. But I totally agree with Mr. Lasky when he says that dissent isn't the highest form of patriotism. The highest form of patriotism is, and always should be, loving your nation so much that you are willing to commit the ultimate sacrifice to defend her.


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