I’m sure many of you have seen the following commercial, celebrating the leadership of the United States Army:
Note who’s not there.
If memory is as much about forgetting as it is about remembering, it is also as much about excluding as it is about including. So where’s Ulysses S. Grant? Where’s William T. Sherman? Where’s Joshua L. Chamberlain?
Okay, when it comes to Chamberlain, I jest … although one could argue that as a citizen soldier, he stands there with Theodore Roosevelt.
Look, I can accept that perhaps a picture of Winfield Scott would not cut it given the message, and viewers would not even know who Zachary Taylor or John J. Pershing might be. But it was under Ulysses S. Grant that the United States Army first raised Regular Army units that recruited black soldiers on a deliberate basis, and I would place Grant above MacArthur when it comes to embodying how we believe the military should function in American society.
Oh, I’m pretty sure I know why the US Army is tiptoeing around its Civil War heritage. However, let’s remember this: Ulysses S. Grant was general in chief of the armies of the United States, and the nation’s first four-star general (at a time when people have retroactively awarded additional rank, it would seem that Grant might be awarded another star). Why doesn’t the US Army want to cite him as a leader of whom it could be proud?