The Nation: Goodbye to All That

In 1962, John F. Kennedy told them: "Wear the beret proudly. It will be a mark of distinction and a badge of courage in the fight for freedom." The Green Berets were, in this war at least, a final flowering of glory—Pimpernels, the last Lone Rangers, ready for anything, ascetic, hard as knives, Apaches with diplomas from Fort Bragg. For a time they were American heroes. In 1965, Robin Moore's novel The Green Berets became a bestseller, and a year later, Barry Sadler's Ballad of the Green Berets went to the top of the song charts. John Wayne even made...

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