Monday, June 30, 2008

In His Own Write

--Drawing by John Lennon

Iraqis are sick of foreign people coming in their country

and trying to destabilize their country

--George W. Bush


Fellow writer Minstrel Boy of Harp and Sword recently penned an impassioned and eloquent response on the subject of a soldier's love that deserves to be a post in its own right:

"The [risk] that always caused me the most pain, and the most satisfaction, was when I put my heart on the line.

If you ever get around to reading
Xenophon's Anabasis, you'll come across one of the most significant passages ever written about the soul of a soldier. Hint: put aside what the Japanese said about the sword being the soul of the Samurai; even a closeness that borders on anthropomorphising weapons does not constitute a soul.

Xenophon talks about a dark night around the campfire. The soldiers are far from home and if not lost, they are certainly unsure of exactly where they are, both in relation to immediate presence and how much further they have to walk. However, that is not what they are talking about.

They are talking about things like philosophy, duty and fear. Some are recounting stories from history of the great Greek heroes -- Ajax, Achilles, Theseus, Diekenese, Agamemnon, and Heracles.

But a grizzled old veteran says that these heroes are not the type of men he wants in the phalanx. He does not want men without fear beside him, for those kinds of men create unnecesary dangers for those around them. They break the integrity of the line of battle to seek single combat and glory. That can spell glory for one, but death for the phalanx and the army.

No, the absence of fear does not make for courage. In fact, for courage to be present, fear must be present also, for what is courage if not the overcoming of fear?
Courage has been said by some of our great philosopher - soldiers to be the knowledge that there are things that matter more than one's own fear.

The old man is asked,
"What then matters more than fear? what is the opposite of fear?"

The veteran sighs and says,


We who have fought, for the most part find that when things are at their most dangerous, confusing, and intimidating, it isn't any slogans, songs or patriotism that keeps us on the line when every fiber of sense in our being is screaming
"run! run! run!"

No, what keeps us there, what sends us through the rote repetitions of drill and duty is love. Love for the guys to our immediate right and left. Love for the guys behind us who will take our place should we fall.

We don't love the guys who send us into battle. We don't love the staff pukes who come up with all these great fucking plans.

We love the guys who lace up, ruck up and walk right into the teeth of hell beside us. They will do so much more than easy stuff like dying for us. They will
kill for us.

They are truly our brothers."

--Minstrel Boy

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Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

but you left out my favorite part!

no problem, i'll add it in here:

ooh rah ranger!

ooh fucking rah!

thanks folks.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 10:51:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


My favorite part, too ;)

The thanks is to you, for your consistently thoughtful engagement.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 2:40:00 PM GMT-5  

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