Earnest returned to the United States in 1934 and was discharged at Fort McDowell (Angel Island, California) on 27 July. He was shocked to learn that no one back home ever heard of the Shanghai Expedition and most people didn’t care. When Earnest participated in full uniform in a Labor Day celebration at Crane, Missouri, he expected people would honor veterans. What he got instead was jeers from a group of Civilian Conservation Corps jerks, driving their girls around in a new, olive drab 1935 Chevy pickup with USA in blocked white letters on the hood. How’s that for gratitude?
Not much has changed in that respect. It was no different for most men returning home in 1945, 1953, or 1971. We’re heroes and the apple of every girl’s eye when a war starts, but instant outcasts when war ends or goes badly. It has been the same for soldiers of every country, win or lose, since the dawn of time. We do what we must and get on with our lives, quietly feeling sorry for the unfortunates who never felt the comradeship of a soldier’s life and who will never experience the excitement of being whisked from boyhood to manhood to the tune of bullets passing by or through.