Soldiers perform many duties and have many roles in the United States of America, but those duties and roles change frequently. The current war and the other conflicts that soldiers are dealing with around the world have made them American heroes.
Thankfully, soldiers currently hold a higher position in society than they did 30-35 years ago. At that time, the Vietnam War essentially turned soldiers into the pariahs of society. Since television and other forms of media could monitor the war and keep people updated on the gruesome details, people began to see soldiers in a less favorable light. That led to an overall distrust and disgust for soldiers, which left many feeling scarred and unappreciated by the people they served.
Since the current conflicts that trouble America are seen as more meaningful, soldiers are not seen in such a negative light. One primary difference is that the Vietnam War took place entirely on foreign soil. Prior to their entrance to the war, the United States had no vested interest or alliance with Vietnam, so many people questioned the American presence there. However, most people believe that the current conflict originated in America with the bombing of various American landmarks and buildings on September 11, 2001. The memory of that terrible day still haunts many, and it gives purpose and meaning to the war being fought.
The role of soldiers in society can be seen by their portrayal in films and songs; movies, such as Dear John, present soldiers as stoic heroes with honor and integrity. Songs about the strength and bravery of soldiers are all over the airwaves, across all genres of music. The country is banding together to show that they support their soldiers. It is that support that will get the soldiers through the troubling times ahead.