9/11: Who Signed Up
The New York Times profiled real Americans who signed up after 9/11/2001. Money quote:
Time magazine called it a day of infamy, evoking Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Pearl Harbor. But Americans did not flock to military recruiting stations after 9/11 the way they did in 1941.OYE Comment:
Enlistments rose in the months after the attacks, but only modestly. Over the next year, and over the next decade, the work of war fell to a relative few, with less than 1 percent of the nation deploying in Iraq or Afghanistan between 2001 and 2011.
Who, then, were those volunteers — the first to enlist, the first to taste battle, the first to die?
Studies show that starting in 2002, Army recruits scored higher on qualification tests, had high school diplomas more often and came from higher-income areas than in previous years — indications that military service was attracting a broader cross-section of Americans, experts say.
But that wave of interest — spurred by a weak economy in 2002 as well as patriotism — did not last, said Beth Asch, an economist with the RAND Corporation who has studied military recruitment.
In 2005, when civil war raged in Iraq and American casualty rates were hitting new highs, the Army, the largest armed service, missed its recruiting goal by nearly 7,000 soldiers. The quality of recruits fell as well. It took the collapse of the stock and housing markets in 2008 to fuel a new tide of enlistments.
The reason Americans did not flock to recruiting stations in large numbers after 9/11/2001, or later, is simple: Our national civilian political leadership wimped out. They did not even try to encourage healthy heterosexual young men to Be A Man! Enlist!; nor did the future leaders of our governing party at the time - the College and Young Republicans - Support Our President by setting a good example for the rest of us.
Hence, Operation Yellow Elephant in Summer 2005. At least we shamed the Yellow Elephants into Shutting Up, if not Signing Up.