It's not every day you see an article in a serious publication approvingly cite Modern Drunkard magazine:
When you look back at history, all the major movers and shakers, these artists, these writers, they were all heavy drinkers. And they were totally fine. They were fully functional drunks! Look at Churchill! Look at FDR! They freed the world from tyranny, and they were drunk all the time.Well, indeed they were, though there were a few other people involved who were perfectly sober. Not as many as you might think, as European armies of the day got liquor rations. The US Navy & Marine Corps were early adopters of Prohibition. Though they had provided a daily liquor ration from the 1700s, in 1899 they put on the breaks, and by 1914 consuption was banned totally. By 1918, federal law banned alcohol within five miles of a naval station. The situation was similar in the Army during WWI, and so it was the case that our military fought the first two World Wars officially sober.
Officially, but under protest. As Bill Mauldin's Up Front reminds us in several of his collected cartoons, the first "strategic" target on liberating any French village was often the wine cellars. One I remember shows a hogshead that was broken up by the Germans before they retreated. The GIs coming in are shocked. "Them rats! Them dirty, cold-blooded, sore-headed, stinkin' Huns! Them atrocity-committin' skunks..." Another buries his face in his hands. Mr. Mauldin had a long bit of writing on the topic, as well. If any of you out there still haven't read Up Front, you should.
If drinking was an acceptable part of life in the European armies, it was a plain vice in the American forces. Yet, as Bill Mauldin and Modern Drunkard point out, the pursuit of vice didn't preclude the pursuit of virtue. It just helped to fill the long, cold spaces in between.