Thursday, July 01, 2010

Men Like Us

I wish I could talk to you, you could talk to me

'Cause there very few of us left my friend

From the days that used to be.

--Days That Used to Be
, Neil Young

Caught in ambush lay a company of riflemen

Just grenades against machine guns in the gloom

Caught in ambush till this one of twenty riflemen

Volunteered volunteered to meet his doom

--The Ballad of Rodger Young
Frank Loesser


The previous piece concerned the detritus of war and the soiled, mangled bodies that have washed up on our beaches. Unlike pelicans, however, many of these soldiers will never be released back into their ecosystems once they reach the apex of their treatment.

This fact led me to reflect upon what separates soldiers from civilians, and what taxpayers and their leaders fail to understand about war.
There is one common denominator for soldiers that makes us different. Civilians do not choose where they are going to die, and often carry a sort of magical thinking about staving off that inevitable day. They accept whatever cards fate deals them, though often grudgingly so.

However, soldiers choose every time they pick up their tired bodies and move down the road. When we step off an airplane in a war zone or jump into a hostile DZ or hit a beach or fly over a protected hostile terrain, we are saying that is where we are willing to die.

This is our distinctive designator and it goes beyond tabs, badges or medals. it is what we are and what we do. Some of us make and some of us don't; some of us are wounded and some mangled, but we always had a choice -- we always geared up and moved out. And that is what makes us different until the day that we die.

We didn't talk, we acted, and nothing can change that fact. This is why many people are uncomfortable being around us. We have a purity that is beyond their comprehension.

Labels: ,


Anonymous Grant said...

My favorite question as a veteran is always "What is it like over there?" I normally respond with a question about what they do for a living, and then ask them what it's like. They stare at me, dumbfounded, and don't know what to say. If you can't explain to me what it's like to be an accountant, teacher, or car salesman, why do you expect that I can sum up two combat tours for you over the course of a casual conversation?

I think it's spot on to say that the attitude of the soldier makes people uncomfortable at the very least. There is none of the insulation that surrounds us here in the states when you are a soldier. You will eat, or you won't. You will get shot, or you won't. There is nobody to complain to, no parents making sure everyone plays nice, no law of the universe enforcing fairness. You cannot call 911. You are a long way from home, all you have is what you can carry, and your job is to find trouble.

Most people just don't get it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 12:45:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Mad Celt said...

Well said, Brother, well said.

Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 1:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I've been in group session for PTSD, which was all vn vets EXCEPT the DVA outreach counselor.
He claimed to understand us,but didn't have a clue.
I could amplify, but that would violate the group.Suffice to say even the folks that think they understand don't have a clue.
For example i know someone that claims to like the military way, but she's incapable of following an order or directive.
I like how you described the life of a infy type.Imagine what it was like in earlier wars.

Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 4:13:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Ghost Dansing said...

"We have a purity that is beyond their comprehension." you are a romantic Jim. that's what i like about you.

Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 6:43:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Grung_e_Gene said...

Greatest number of Veteran and Active Duty suicides...

Friday, July 2, 2010 at 7:17:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

You sweet tongued devil.

Friday, July 2, 2010 at 12:40:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


"You can't call 911..."

In a word.

Friday, July 2, 2010 at 12:57:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just discovered you. Others like you have no doubt known about you for a long long time. Every little bit helps.
I am not against war exactly.
I am against unjust wars.
Yes all wars are unjust. The thing is the way I see it it only takes one side to create an unjust war, not two. I see the war and subsequent occupation of Iraq as blatantly unjust. Everyone above an E5 should have been able to figure out that not only was the Iraq war unjust in was blatantly unconstitutional.
The Afghanistan conflict is unjust too. Yet the real reasons that we got in to Afghanistan in the first place were not as easy to figure out.
I guess that makes me by American standards quite radical. By European standards, where I now live that makes me normal.

Friday, July 2, 2010 at 1:49:00 PM GMT-5  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home