Created By: Floria on December 25, 2011 Last Edited By: Floria on December 27, 2011

Your Medals Will Not Protect You

Minority veterans face oppression in civilian life by the government of the country they fought for.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Formerly German-Jewish World War I Veteran, expanded.

Bob, a member of a minority group, joins the military. He acquits himself well, and may even gain a reputation as a war hero. After returning to civilian life, however, Bob's minority status relegates him to second-class citizenship in his homeland, despite the risks he has taken on his country's behalf.

Truth in Television, as in the cases of German-Jewish veterans in Nazi Germany and African-American servicemen in the pre-Civil Rights Movement United States.

Examples:
  • The Barber in Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator is a Jewish World War I veteran living in a parody of Nazi Germany.
  • Jakob Eisenhardt is another German-Jewish example, who was a decorated veteran of World War I. His family's persecution by the Nazi regime provides a substantial portion of his son's Freudian Excuse.
  • An Ambiguously Jewish concentration camp prisoner in Maus claims to have fought in World War I and earned "medals from the Kaiser."

Community Feedback Replies: 10
  • December 25, 2011
    Koveras
  • December 25, 2011
    Floria
    Possibly. If I can't find more examples, I'm thinking of possibly expanding this into something like "Your Medals Will Not Protect You" - "Being a veteran, or even a war hero, will not stop the government from oppressing you as a civilian," specifying that the vets in question are members of groups being oppressed for other reasons, and not because the current regime has a grudge against former military personnel or the characters as individuals. African-American soldiers in the pre-Civil Rights Movement United States might be depicted this way, although I don't know if any author has ever done so.
  • December 26, 2011
    AgProv
    ^Your Medals Will Not Protect You: There's a real-life example, of a soldier from Alabama who served in France and won quite a prestigious medal for his bravery against the Germans. After the war he returned to Alabama and made the mitake of thinking that being a war hero entitled him to a measure of respect from white cops and members of the sheriff's department. Not a chance - to the cops, he was just a mouthier nigra than usual, and died "resisting arrest", ie after being beaten to death with nightsticks. Still looking for this name, but one certifiable example is a decorated black WW 2 vet called Isaac Woodward who was blinded following a severe beating from Mississipi cops.

    This was all part of the experience of returning black servicemen who'd been treated with consideration and respect in Britain, France, Italy, et c, and treated like normal human beings by everyone save their own Army. The experience was particularly noted and resented by black servicemen who had ended up in fighting units, risking their lives for America, but who still were not treated as equals by white Americans and who were expected to return to second-class citizenship after military service. This was part of the motivation for the growth of civil rights movements in the South - especially after hosts in countries like Britain and France had shown themselves colour-blind and seen only Americans, regardless of colour.
  • December 26, 2011
    DS9guy
    I remember seeing a Real Life example in one of those documentaries where the reenactments are done over narration. Anyway, it was about Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) where the Nazis were attacking up anything Jewish-owned in response to an assassination. There was this solider at this Jewish family's house. One of the family members was a WWI veteran. He showed the solider his Cross (military decoration) and rants on how he once defended Germany and is angry that this is how his country treats him now. The solider actually saluted him and left the house without any bloodshed. He and his family were one of the lucky Jews that night.

    Forgive me if I got the details wrong because it has been a long since I watched it.
  • December 26, 2011
    Specialist290
  • December 26, 2011
    ladygem
    Only problem with Your Medals Will Not Protect You is it sounds like dialogue. Highly Decorated Victim or Veteran Victim maybe?
  • December 26, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Muhammad Ali has told the story of coming back from the Olympic Games with a gold medal in boxing only to still be treated as a second class citizen because of his race. He claims he threw the medal in the river. (He later got a replacement.)
  • December 27, 2011
    Chabal2
    In Reunion, the German Jewish protagonist recounts that when a Nazi came to put up anti-Semitic propaganda on his house, his father took out his WWI uniform with all its medals, marched outside, and stood at attention next to the Nazi until he was so embarrassed he left.

  • December 27, 2011
    azul120
    Would this apply to Rambo: First Blood?
  • December 27, 2011
    dyson88
    This sort of happens in Star Trek The Next Generation. Data has won numerous medals and awards from Starfleet, but he is still put on trial by them to determine if he is merely property.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=0lww1lx0g6p8pyss98s8pvt3