H.L. Mencken’s Opinion of “The Veteran”

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“The average soldier found in the army a vastly more spacious life, with many of the privileges of a chartered libertine. . . .  If he did a little stealing it was one of his privileges as a savior of humanity.  If he was rough and brutal it was a sign of his fighting spirit.  Moreover, he could look forward to distinction and respect for the rest of his life, with a long list of special privileges.  In every community in America, however small, there are local notables whose notability rests wholly on the fact that they were once drafted into some war or other . . . .  Their general intelligence is shown by the kind of ideas they advocate.  They are, in the main, bitter enemies of the liberty of the individual, and are responsible for some of the worst corruptions in politics.  The most grasping of all politicians is the veteran.”

H.L. Mencken, writing about World War I draftee veterans in A Mencken Chrestomathy, pp. 93-95.

(Believe it or not, this was written long before John McCain became a senator).

8:08 pm on April 9, 2014