Michael Bellesiles has a piece in the Chronicle on teaching military history with veterans in the classroom. It’s a very interesting pedagogical issue that he explores via a timely example:
On the first day of my military-history class, after a discussion of the concept of democratic warfare, I asked my usual question about veterans or National Guard members present, and if any students had family members serving in the military. Ernesto (I have changed names out of respect for this family’s privacy), a shy but exceedingly bright student, smiled with evident pride as he mentioned that his brother Javier had recently enlisted in the Army. We discussed his brother’s reasons for enlisting, which mostly focused on a sense of gratitude to a country that had given their family refuge.
But Jim Lindgren is suspicious…
I have now read through every DoD casualty report from last fall for both Iraq and Afghanistan and news obituaries for most of them, and I have found none that was even remotely possible as the case that Bellesiles wrote about in the Chronicle. This post discusses the serious questions this raises for the veracity of Bellesiles account.
It would be unfortunate if Bellesiles’ anecdote is fictional, since it undermines what could otherwise be a useful discussion about classroom content hitting too close to home. (In my case, it comes up with just war theory, abortion, end-of-life care, and the student who wondered if feminist arguments against pornography applied to her work as an exotic dancer. Never a dull moment.)