National Affairs: More Fruit Salad

Bill Mauldin's sardonic, unshaven Willie once summed up his attitude to the reckless flood of U.S. decorations in World War II. Said Willie: "Just gimme a coupla aspirin. I already got a Purple Heart."

By war's end most front-line troops agreed with Willie. They had their own jeering nicknames for the even cheaper noncombat awards. The Asiatic-Pacific Theater ribbon was the "malaria bar with atabrine clusters"; the pre-Pearl Harbor service medal was the "Lend-Lease cross."

It became an overseas gag that a WAC who had done nothing more than commute to & from...

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