Veterans who first serve in the military and then attend elite colleges learn to navigate both moral worlds. On campus we learn to blend in, even at the cost of feeling betrayed. We keep our love for America to ourselves. We don’t want to give veterans a bad reputation. We want to make friends. We try to understand campus protesters, to see where they’re coming from. Maybe their grievances are a bit overblown, but still, they’re young. They’re still maturing. Just like we were when we volunteered our lives for this country. Just like our friend was when he hanged himself after returning from his second deployment.
In truth, many of the rich kids at elite colleges love American values, too. But they know that loving the Constitution and its first two amendments marks one as working-class or low-status, and that being against those things codes as educated. So they rail against those values to distinguish themselves from one crowd and fit into another.
This Veterans Day we can reflect on the sacrifices made by those who volunteered to defend the United States. But let’s also find time to consider that these sacrifices were undertaken to defend values that our ruling-class-in-waiting seeks to undermine. Many students at elite colleges are duping themselves, too. They don’t realize that they are protected by the very principles they despise and the people to whom they condescend.