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As we approach Veterans Day, I think about the veterans described in Tom Brokaw's book, "The Greatest Generation." Those great Americans, who served our country in war and later in industry and government, are pretty much gone from the scene. With no military draft, and World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars further behind us, we are left with fewer national leaders whose values are tempered by the selflessness required by military service.

We are left with fewer leaders who know what it means to commit men and women to war and feel, from experience, a genuine concern for their personal needs under combat conditions.

In years gone by, many business and government leaders had a military background where part of their job was to be responsible for the human needs of subordinates, such as warm food and clothing as well as medical care. This service to the nation is not part of the resumes of many leaders today.

Could this be part of the reason why many corporate leaders and their investors reap excessive rewards while workers are asked to accept a lesser share of pay and benefits? And could this be part of the reason why we were misled into an open-ended war in Iraq over the objections of many military leaders and intelligence experts?

Howard E. Wilcox Jr.