[December 03, 2014] Traditionally, America has been called a “melting pot,” welcoming people from many countries in their hope to find freedom, new opportunities, and a better way of life. By custom, those immigrating to the United States assimilate into the new way of life found here. The U.S. military is a strong contributor for those choosing that route – from salad bowl to melting pot – a time-honored American way.
While a majority of the rest of society wants something more than ordinary assimilation, we are in the midst of a transition more appropriately called a salad bowl or mosaic of “multicultural diversity” where the various ingredients keep their individual characteristics. Diversity has become the new cause célèbre of the political elite and of the many new immigrants that arrive mostly from Central and South America. Yet, contrary to this trend, the U.S. retains its obligation to assimilate military troops into that culture and does so in a variety of ways.
In the military we learn about duty-honor-country and what it means to preserve the freedoms enjoyed by the many. All military troops experience roughly the same introduction into the system and must pass through a variety of clearly definable steps for promotion and increasing levels of responsibility. There is no one who comes from the outside to take charge of the organization, everyone inside the military have come from that same military. Honorable service is highly valued as well as always doing what’s right morally, legally, and ethically. Individual differences, while not discouraged, take a backseat when compared to the good of all; teamwork and the ability to work with others matters a great deal.
The U.S. military has become the de facto mechanism for successfully assimilating many new immigrants into the U.S. culture. As enlisted troops, legal immigrants can join and receive a fast track to citizenship. The motivation to assimilate, and do their job well, is provided by this lawful process. There is no other organization in the United States that fulfills this role to such an extent. Police forces and fire fighting organizations are similar but do not reach the same scale or intensity of assimilating its members as the military.
Interestingly, we have a bifurcated society that values both assimilation to American values and a multicultural diversity. The military recognizes “diversity” in many ways. But the military continues to aggressively maintain its assimilation of citizens into the mainstream culture. Those that do not or cannot conform are removed from service. America’s military continues, at least at the moment, as the primary mechanism that turns the salad bowl into the melting pot.
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[Note] Here are links directly to major U.S. military websites. Take a drive through them and you’ll see the assimilation theme in them all.