People think of war as this distant, remote thing that never really happens to you, and instead always happens to someone else.
Americans particularly don't really see war as something that they lose. They tend to forget all of the losing. Take the Mexican-American War, for example—it was a total mess, but no one ever talks about it that way.
In WWI, we just didn't learn the lesson, and we were shocked that Germany would be willing to instigate a war with us. Us. Unthinkable.
At first this distant war was like watching a sports game, but then the young men of Salinas who were sent to the front start dying by the dozens.
People start to lose the spirit then, big time.
But just like Will Hamilton predicted, the troops start buying up beans like it's nobody's business.