Turning In My Card: American Identity and the Veteran Experience

Elliot Ackerman

April 8, 2021 @ 7:00 p.m. EST

The Bowdoin Marine Corps Society presents the fourth annual Everett P. Pope Lecture featuring Marine veteran, journalist, and author, Elliot Ackerman.

As America grapples with deep political divisions and the elevation of identity politics, the place of military veterans in our society is increasingly complex. Veterans of the post-Vietnam, post-draft All-Volunteer Force are often placed on a pedestal, ritualistically thanked for their service and celebrated. But does this well-meaning gratitude play into a corrosive culture of entitlement that can lead to radicalization? What is the role of veterans in today's rubric of American identity?

Elliot Ackerman is a National Book Award finalist, author of the novels Waiting for Eden, Dark at the Crossing, and Green on Blue, and of the nonfiction book Places and Names. His work has appeared in Esquire, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, and The Best American Short Stories, among other publications. He is both a former White House Fellow and a Marine, and he served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart. His most recent book, 2034: A Novel of the Next World War, is a chillingly authentic, geopolitical thriller that imagines a naval clash between the US and China in the South China Sea in 2034–and the path from there to a nightmarish global conflagration.

The Everett P. Pope Lecture Series, sponsored by the Bowdoin Marine Corps Society, enables the Bowdoin community to engage with foreign policy and national security practitioners and experts. Major Pope, USMC, graduated from Bowdoin in 1941 where he was captain of the state champion tennis team and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He fought in the Pacific at Guadalcanal and Peleliu. In 1945 he received the nation’s highest decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor, for leading his rifle company at Peleliu.