Hey Barb, that's interesting. I certainly have nothing against capitalizing soldier, but it hasn't been the convention to do so. That changed in all Army communications in 2003 when the Army chief of staff (not capitalized) decreed that the word "soldier" be capitalized.
But that is the Army. I haven't seen that convention followed by the media in general or adopted into the AP or UPI stylebooks. So if you are writing something for the Army, it's Soldier. For all other situation and uses, it's still simply soldier, the way it has been for
Marine is different. As a matter of convention, the word Marine has been capitalized by nearly all writers and publishers since the U.S. Marine Corps was founded in 1775. I believe that is because the term Marine always referred only to a member of the Corps and therefore was considered more of a proper noun, whereas the term soldier was often used generically to describe any member of the various armed forces and militias.
For the record, I'm all for capitalizing the words Soldier, Sailor and Airman (actually, I think we need a better term there), Guardsman, etc. It isn't the rule - yet - but perhaps it should be. Then again, there are many other trades that are worthy of respect. Police Officer, EMT, Firefighter, etc. etc. etc. Those people put their lives on the line everyday for very little pay, too. So once you begin, where and when do you end?
(Edit to Dave: Whether a kerfuffle or a bru-ha-ha, this thread has turned into "much ado about nothing")
[This message has been edited by Steve Craddock (7/24/2011)]