Perhaps the flagpole legend was not intended to be taken literally and was merely created as a prankish bit of misinformation used in the initiation of new recruits (much in the vein of the “snipe hunt,” a ritual in which newcomers to a group are sent in quest of ridiculous, non-existent objects, their naivety in undertaking such tasks providing a source of great glee to the all-knowing veteran members). If so, that the legend is now widely-believed (or at least taken seriously enough to be questioned) might demonstrate that the legend has since taken on the secondary, unintended effect of reinforcing the symbolic importance of both the flag and a soldier’s devotion to duty.
Any selection worth it’s merit will test people by marching them at night with 50lb packs, in the freezing sleet and covered in mud and preferably alone. The real test is 3-5 am. The Hill Billy who has hunted while wet through and in the driving sleet, alone, , up and down mountains has the right spirit and the high pain threshold.
What concerns me is the apparent decline in peoples ability to cope when they are muddy and having to operate in cold, wet and windy conditions, especially sleet. How prone are people to hypothermia?
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