This is a question that I think is running through the minds of many Americans today and I wonder what their answer is going to be if they or a loved one is asked to serve. In the post-Vietnam era, a more cynical time than of today, it is not automatically assumed that everyone will drop what he or she were doing in their lives and rush to serve as they did sixty years ago at the beginning of World War II.
Tom Brokaw opens his book, The Greatest Generation, with the observation that "A sense of responsibility and a commitment to honesty is characteristic of this generation." (Brokaw, 1998) in referring to his father's generation. They didn't think about the government being in the "right or wrong" or isn't it better to have peace than war?
Let's think back to what that time was like. It had been over a hundred years since our country had been attacked by a foreign power and we were just coming out of the Great Depression.
It would have been very easy to get involved in the European conflict that was going on at the time just to get us out of our economic difficulties and indeed, after we got in the war, that was exactly what FDR was often accused of. But so had practically every president in virtually all of the armed conflicts we have been involved in.
In my own family experience, my grandparents almost lost their farm during the "dirty 30's", and were still just barely hanging on when the war came. When a postal worker joined the service, my grandmother got his job and my father got a job on a neighbor's farm to help them when one of their sons joined the army. This was repeated...