"In an era of universal polemics and political unrest – with no thought of glory, with no fanfare or public notice – 265,000 women volunteered to go where they were needed, to do what was needed. The era was known as Vietnam, and these young women, most in their 20s, risked their lives to care for our country's wounded and dying." - "History of the Women's Vietnam Memorial," accessed May 29, 2017The Vietnam War has such a strong negative brand that the very mention of it brings to mind unpleasant thoughts. So unpopular was this war that people routinely threw tomatoes at the faces of Veterans lucky enough to make it home, adding insult to injury.
Nowadays, we live in a very polarized environment, although my sense is that people are getting weary of it.
More than that, as much as they may loathe the politics of the "other side," there is a growing recognition that shutting people down just because they have different views does not make any sense.
Yesterday on CNN (not exactly a right-wing outpost), Fareed Zakaria said:
"American universities seem committed to every kind of diversity except intellectual diversity. Conservative voices and views are being silenced entirely."
Is there perhaps a connection between the growing idleness of young people and their propensity for extreme opinions?
Right now, Census Bureau data shows, 1 in 3 adults age 18-34 live with Mom and/or Dad. Within that group, about 1 in 4 -- or 2,200,000 people -- aren't going to school and they aren't going to work.
What if, instead, those Millennials had something important to do, something that actually helped to make this country better?
The Vietnam Women's Memorial is not just a tribute to the sacrifice of female military volunteers.
It honors those who set aside their opinions to get the job done.
We need to encourage more of that. Much, much more.
On this Memorial Day 2017, to those who have served, thank you for your service.
By Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author's own; this blog is posted in the author's personal capacity. Available for reuse under Creative Commons 3.0 License. Public domain photo via Pixabay.