Hugh Hewitt asked this question recently, as a by-product of a discussion that evolved during an appearance at Biola University. His point was that in 2028, for those running for public office, the answer to that question may prove pivotal to their chances of getting elected. That question splinters the conversation into a few directions…why serve?...will it make a difference in my future?...how will it separate me from my peers?...and to Hugh’s larger question…how will I be perceived if I do, or don’t, serve?
I’ll deal with the last question first.
Guy Sajer, in his excellent book, Forgotten Soldier... a recounting of a French citizen’s conscription into the German Wehmacht, because of his mother’s German heritage, interestingly opens with his observation…that upon his return to France after the war…he never met a man his age that had not served in the French Resistance. His inference was that this was a mathematical improbability, and that a large preponderance of the male population in France, were abject liars about their service to their country.
A credible recounting of the Resistance movement can be found in Raymond and Lucie Aubrac’s account…The French Resistance 1940-1944. This accounting will support Sajer’s inference that few actually served in the Resistance, thus many Frenchmen must have been lying about their participation in resisting the German occupation. Lies, that by their very nature, are intended to mislead the listener as to the bravery of the teller…his selflessness, his courage under fire, his audacity, his sense of purpose, his coolness under pressure, his service to his country or a higher good, his physical hardships endured, and the mental challenges that accompany the depravities of war. When combined, these lies are designed specifically to elevate the stature of the teller in the eyes of all.