RANGER AGAINST WAR: Reverie at Reveille <

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Reverie at Reveille


 Follow me;
and let the dead bury their dead
--Matthew 8:22 

 Holding back the years
Thinking of the fear I've had so long,
When somebody hears
Listen to the fear that's gone 
--Holding Back the Years ,
Simply Red 

 It takes very little to govern good people.
Very little. And bad people can't be governed at all.
Or if they could I never heard of it
 -- Cormac Mccarthy
______________________

A couple of weeks ago we attended the Black Hat Instructors reunion in Columbus, Ga, home of the Infantry School and Ranger's former stomping grounds. Present past and future collided.

The young soldiers have a startled-deer gaze in their eyes; that is the present. The film American Sniper played on t.v. that night, and we watched it for the first time; this depicted a version of the present. Lord help us if military service has devolved into the triteness displayed in the film. (We knew that Hollywood was already there because it sells to an audience that rejects challenge.)

As an Army-trained sniper, Ranger understands the reality of military killing. "American Sniper" made a harsh reality into a comic book-style graphic novel, laden with melodrama. The eponymous sniper was mad and mean, and shown as determined to deliver his holy vengeance upon the enemy.

Four young men were in the next motel room, and would begin Ranger training the following morning; this is the future. That day was the reunion, and thus, the past. "American Sniper" was the recent past, flowing into the future.

We are all slowly marching into the past, despite our current roles and their iterations, despite our perception of the speed of that movement. Rather than talk Old Soldier stuff, our thoughts go to humanity and military service writ large.

Ranger has known many hard, tough men, starting with those of his youth in the coal towns of Southeastern Pennsylvania. He has also known many mean men, and some mean and tough men.

As a company commander he endeavored to run a company devoid of mean-spirited leadership, focused instead on the hardness of our service. Life and service is not as depicted in the thin reality of these melodramatic films. Unlike the sentiments expressed by the sniper character Chris Kyle, meanness has no place in the military or in life.

Disappointingly, this movie, like so many others of its ilk, imparts a mean-spiritedness to American actions, as though that meanness is a natural response to being attacked, and as though that response will save us.

We hope that the young men going off to Ranger training on that day are trained to be tough, without the need to be mean. The years will be mean enough without our actions adding to the burden.

Forty-seven years from now, we wonder how they will remember those that have fallen by the wayside. With equanimity?

We hope it will not be through a callow mean lens like that through which most tough guys are depicted for us today.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Ael said...

Thanks for the reminder of the caustic effects of being mean.

Life is too short for that shit. Always point it out when it happens and educate the person on why it is unacceptable and how they could have done better.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 at 10:59:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Fred Gould said...

The problem is if Hollywood made a factual and historical movie about the military and war, it would be a financial failure.

Saturday, October 24, 2015 at 11:46:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of your better brief posts Jim, thanks for keeping RAW going (Lisa too :0)
Carl

Monday, October 26, 2015 at 11:01:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Carl,
Lisa has started grad school(MSW) and we're cutting back on extra duties.
We will keep ranger alive , but in a more spare manner.
jim

Tuesday, October 27, 2015 at 10:44:00 AM GMT-5  

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