The military urge to exhibit medals was expressed when WW-I fighter pilots painted enemy flags on the fuselages of their planes. In WW-II, bomber pilots painted a bomb for each mission. After the war, stationed in Italy, my navigator, Ike, painted an Italian flag on the canvas tent wall over his bed.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Mission accomplished,” he said proudly.
He’d spent the weekend in Rome where a posh hotel on the Via Veneto, reserved for R&R, had a dance band, and women.
“Careful you don’t get a war wound,” I said.
“Always wear body armor.”
Soon a second Italian flag, a third, then a French tricolor.
“Is Paris as good as Rome?”
“Go to Pig Alley!” he said, with a smirk. Soon he had rows of flags.
It comes to mind in the wake of General Petraeus resigning because of an affair. From what I’ve read and heard, he was an outstanding general, a good CIA director, and nothing classified was lost. I approve of fidelity but not possessiveness, The affair between a mature woman, ex-Lt. Colonel, now a civilian so no power imbalance, was two consenting adults. A public resignation obliges papers to pick it up, yet, beneath the text is, what’s the big deal? Neither her husband, Dr. Scott Broadwell, nor his wife, Ms. Holly Petraeus, is in danger of losing a life partner.
David Patraeus: top of his West Point class, soccer and ski teams, PhD from Princeton, four-star general, medals from collar bone to bottom rib.
Paula Broadwell: concert mistress (violinist), high school orchestra, all-state basketball player, homecoming queen, West Point grad, Harvard doctoral candidate.
Two charged atoms in a super collider, smashing together in a shower of sparks.
I’d say both deserve medals