Many WWI soldiers returned home as changed men. Women, while grateful for the military victory, were often dismayed at what had become of the men they sent away, calling it “the lowering of the quality of young American manhood.”
What emerged from the talk of which these samples have been reported was that at least half the women present were aware — or thought they were aware — of the lowering of the quality of young American manhood — or perhaps of a dulling of its fineness — growing out of military service, whether at home or abroad.
If this was the price paid for becoming heroes — and none of the women failed in proper pride that way, none was a pacifist, none was tainted with any sort of pro-Germanism, all had their own man or men in the service and were glad of it — if this was the price their country and their womenfolk had paid for seeing a patriotic duty bravely done — then it was a heavy price to pay.
This specific example of one man was provided, as emblematic of the larger problem.
A youth well born and bred, and one whose home-made manners, she said, had been a model of what such manners should be. She had met him again after he came back from overseas, and he had said things to her that she had never in her life before had said to her in polite society. Army life had done that to him, she insisted with some vehemence.
Considering that Donald Trump avoided the Vietnam War because of his supposed bone spurs, imagine how vile his demeanor and language would be if he’d gone.
What the Army Did to Them: The Present State of Young Men in America Is Discussed With Mixed Emotions by Some of Their Women Folk Army
Published: Sunday, June 8, 1919