I am going to criticize the maudlin sensibility and shortsightedness of this The New Yorker piece tomorrow, but for now, I ‘d like to take issue with Roger Angell’s lament over the loss of soldiers writing actual letters from the battlefield. Angell writes:
Twenty years ago, many of us got a whole new sense of the Civil War while watching and listening to Ken Burns’s nine-part television documentary, which took its poignant tone from the recital of Union and Confederate soldiers’ letters home. G.I.s in the Second World War wrote home on fold-over V-Mail sheets. Troops in Afghanistan and, until lately, Iraq keep up by Skype and Facebook, and in some sense are not away at all.
While I have no friends or family members currently serving overseas, I have had my fair share of students whose parents and relatives have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I can assure Mr. Angell that these mother and fathers and aunts and uncles are in every sense of the word away, regardless of how often their image may appear on a computer screen or how often they may update a Facebook page.
To state otherwise is stupid.
I can’t imagine how that sentence found its way past an editor or any other reasonably minded person at The New Yorker.