I don’t know when this moral drive began, but it was after my Army basic training in 1960.
We were never trained to worry about fellow soldiers left on the battlefield, much less risk our lives to go back and get them. Yet by 1972 the United States had a full blown political movement (later) known as the MIAs. Missing in Action. The U.S. government was being forced to find all the missing soldiers in the Viet Nam War -- and bring them home.
I suspect that two forces merged to create this No XXX Left Behind. No Marine Left Behind, No Body Left Behind…etc. First was the camaraderie of the Green Berets who were the first Americans to establish a military presence in Viet Nam. The second was the stunning improvement in helicopter medivac services that started saving the lives of men who formerly would have died on the battlefield.
Now we have a national education program relying on the same morality: No Child Left Behind. As if reading poorly was the equivalent of dying on the field of battle.
So what is the moral problem? The Green River serial killer, Gary L. Ridgway, who confessed to killing 48 women around Seattle, was given a life sentence in return for his effort to identify and find all the buried bodies.
Do you see the moral problem? The No XXX Left Behind versus the Death Penalty.
We need to have the Death Penalty to use as a bargaining chip to get serial killers to tell us who they killed and where they buried them. Under the No XXX Left Behind we have a moral need to find all murder victims. We need leverage to get the murderers to reveal the victim’s location.