BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA – Revelations that the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol included many former and current members of America’s armed forces have been met with alarm. And yet, as a 35-year veteran and retired commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, I saw the events of Jan. 6 as the predictable culmination of a growing disconnect between the U.S. military and civilian society.
It is a rift with deep historical roots. When the United States emerged victorious from World War II, it had met a series of clearly articulated strategic goals. Whether or not they wore a uniform, Americans had been “all in,” eagerly making the sacrifices necessary to defeat the Axis powers. When the war was over, U.S. servicemen and women returned to a country that was proud of what they had accomplished, united, and eager to move forward.