Americans and battle casualties

[T]he Germans drew the first American blood in the Battle of the Atlantic […] a U-boat torpedo hit the U.S. destroyer Kearny and eleven of her crew were killed. […]

Even this “incident” was taken pretty much as a matter of course by the American people who always have considered the men in their regular armed forces—Navy, Army and, most of all, Marine Corps—as rugged mercenaries who signed up voluntarily, as do policemen and firemen, for hazardous service; it was, of course, tough luck when any of them were killed in the line of duty in a Central American revolution, or on an accidentally sunk submarine or on a deliberately sunk gunboat, like the Panay, but it was still all in the day’s work. There was little or no self-identification of the normal American civilian with the professional American soldier or sailor. In the case of the drafted men, however, the attitude was entirely different. They were “our boys” who must be kept out of harm’s way at all costs. Since there were no drafted men in the Navy at that time, there was no great popular indignation against Hitler for the attacks on the destroyers; but what is most important is that neither was there any serious popular indignation against Roosevelt for his responsibility in thus exposing our ships.

— Robert E. Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins (Harper & Bros., 1948), pgs. 380-381.

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