Average Jane

The American Sacrifice?

“In those days, everyone made contributions for the war, and the wealthy made the biggest ones. Labor journalist Sam Pizzigati argues that this shared sacrifice from the top down helped define the ‘Greatest Generation’ and pulled the country, including the elites, together in wartime.” –TomPaine.com

With the idea of World War III being thrown around by pundits in the media, it makes me think a lot about the other World Wars and what it meant for society at the time. One of the biggest ideas that comes to mind is that of “sacrifice”. Sam Pizzigati was referencing a 94% income tax imposed during WWII, a compromise from the 100% income tax proposed by FDR. There were other sacrifices as well. Women could not purchase stockings as the nylon was being used to make parachutes. Food was rationed, gasoline was conserved, every bit of scrap metal was collected, rubber and cloth were not readily available, books were printed with smaller letters and thinner margins to save paper… These were times of war, and every single person was affected.

Life went on, though, for Americans. If they weren’t fighting, they were helping the war effort here at home. My question is as follows: Are Americans today prepared for this ne’er mentioned byproduct of war? The current war has had implications, namely the high cost of gasoline, but are people driving less? And if they are, is it to conserve gas, or are they driving less because they can’t afford to support their driving habits? Sacrifice is not something you do when it is convenient to your life.

Americans today live in a time of veritable prosperity. Our nation is in debt, but individuals thrive. We all spend our days on personal computers, we drive around in our oversized cars, we go home and eat a glutton’s ration of food. We do not need. We look at people without and pity them because they do not know what it is like to have everything and need nothing. We do not give to them, however, because that would take from what we have, and what we have is paramount. So what happens when it’s our turn to sacrifice? Where will we start? Will the children give up their PS2’s? Will Hummer owners have to lend their vehicles to the military? Will portion sizes have to go down so that food will stretch further?

After the United States was attacked, Americans did sacrifice: they gave up their civil liberties, for one. They said “I have no problem waiting hours in line at the airport to be patted down, especially if it means I’ll be safe from terrorism!” So we did. We waited. And everyone was fine, until it was *their* turn to get patted down. “Why do you need to pat me down? Do I look like a terrorist to you?”

Speaking of, there is another cost of war that is still rampant in our country after the first attacks 5 years agosuspicionon of our neighbors. By “neighbor” I do not mean Billy down the block. When I go to an airport and see a Middle Eastern man, I feel bad. Why? Because I hear the whispers that he does not. I hear the sound of distrust, I feel the air fill with fear. Unnecessary fear brought about because Americans cannot think of a constructive way to deal with something they cannot control. I take this time to remind everyone of those people of the thousands of Japanese put into concentration camps (note: I prefer not using the term of the time “internment camp,” as candy coating what we did to those individuals is reprehensible). We must resist the temptation to submit to our fears.

America is fed up with war. Most of the American flags have been taken down from houses and car windows. Most people have stopped caring. We are in a state of mental exhaustion from dealing with all of the inexplicably disastrousus things that have happened in and to the world in the past few years. What will happen when this President, or the President that comes after, asks our nation to sacrifice for a war they don’t even believe in?

You tell me.


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  1. * David says:

    Good question!

    For better or for worse it’s much easier to get access to information about global events, be they military, economic, social, or otherwise, than in the 1940’s. Though I was not alive at the time, it seems to me like Vietnam was a sort of transition to our current era where citizens feel like they should have more of a say in American military action (by the way this is a gross oversimplification, but that’s what blogs are for). I’m sure this is a laughable concept to many generals, as they are aware that the average civilian has little to no understanding of military strategy, but then many generals are limited in that their worldview may not allow them to envision a society where military action is obsolete. All that to say, there are many citizens who would respond to an accusation of them not being prepared to sacrifice for a war with, “You’re damn right I’m not.” This may seem unpatriotic, selfish, and kinda sad at first, but the thing to remember is that people are more aware of the actual reasons behind the conflicts.

    Ignorance was bliss for war support. Whether a more informed populace that witholds support for only the most important causes is better or dangerously weak makes for an intersting debate.

    I just realized I have said nothing of substance. I think it’s because I have a side on this issue but I have no way to support it, so I’ll just keep that shit to myself.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 9 months ago
  2. * Lisa says:

    I think having a side is fine… it’s call “opinion”. I have the information debate constantly: I think we had it when you were in town, actually. Is it always safe for the media to provide us with information, or should the government withhold it for our own good…
    That being said, “our own good” is not something the government should be able to define or decide.
    Like Korea, maybe like Vietnam, Iraq is a civil war in which we are meant to choose a side. Didn’t work then, ain’t gonna work now.
    Basically… it all sucks. Talk about an oversimplification. =)


    P.S. You’re the best! Come back soon!

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 9 months ago

  3. 18th of july, wow, I’m pretty far back in the past n_n

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 12 months ago

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