Once that shirt undoubtedly fit a lean physique of the late 1970s or early 1980s, but by the time I saw it modeled, in the 2000s, it was getting mighty snug. Still, they refused to part with it. On it was some variation of the outline of a map of Vietnam with bit of grim humor superimposed: "Participant, Southeast Asia War Games, 1961-1975: Second Place."
I was always struck by it. These men of the "Me Generation" had come home to the sneers and backhanded comments of the men of the "Greatest Generation," their fathers' era. They had supposedly been the first Americans to lose a war. However, instead of the defensive apparel donned by some vets ("We were winning when I left"), they wore their loss for all to see, pride mingling with a sardonic sense of humor.
Today's military is made up of still another generation, the Millennials, representatives of the 80 million Americans born between 1980 and 2000. In fact, with nearly 43% of the active duty force age 25 or younger and roughly 66% of it 30 or under, it's one of the most Millennial-centric organizations around.