16 November 2005

Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen - 2005

The Military

The average age of the military man is 19 years. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country. He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father's; but he has never collected unemployment either.

He's a recent High School graduate;

He was probably an average student,pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away.
He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and 155mm howizzitor.
He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk.

He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark.

He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher
and use either one effectively if he must.

He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional.

He can march until he is told to stop or stop until he is told to march.

He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity. He is self-sufficient.

He has two sets of fatigues:
he washes one and wears the other.
He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry.
he sometimes forgets to brush his teeth,
but never to clean his rifle.

He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts.
If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food.
He'll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low.
He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his hands.

He can save your life - or take it, because that is his job.

He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay and still find ironic humor in it all.

He has seen more suffering and death then he should have in his short lifetime.

He has stood atop mountains of dead bodies, and helped to create them.
He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat
and is unashamed.

He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body

while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to 'square-away' those around him who haven't bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking.

In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful.

Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather,

he is paying the price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy.

He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free
for over 200 years.

He has asked nothing in return, except our friendship and understanding.
Remember him, always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood.

And now we even have woman over there in danger, doing their part in this tradition of going to War when our nation calls us to do so.

As you go to bed tonight, remember this shot..

A short lull, a little shade and a picture of loved ones in their helmets

When you read this, please stop for a moment and say a prayer
for our ground troops in Afghanistan, sailors on ships, and airmen in the air,
and for those in Iraq.

There is nothing attached....
This can be very powerful.......
Of all the gifts you could give a US Soldier, Sailor, Coastguardsman, Marine
or Airman, prayer is the very best one.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Donna said...

WOW...that's my son exactly!!! Right down to the age. I miss you son, I'm proud of who you are. 3/172 Inf, we send our prayers and will be here when you come home.
God Bless and Be Safe. ThankYou...All
Your a great group of soldiers. We miss you...

17 November, 2005 07:41  
Blogger julia delrieu said...

I found your depiction of the troops serving in Iraq quite powerful. Before I go any further, I do have to say that I was not for any US intervention in Iraq and do believe this intervention was based on false grounds. But my post and point will be on what the troops are doing in Iraq and not what any politician is doing in Washington. I am trying to understand what motivates an american citizen to enroll in his army, what is he told be done in Iraq, and what he is actually doing. Both my great grandfathers were in the french army during WWI: one wanted to see foreign lands, one escaped the russian turmoil and was given a uniform in exchange for a citizenship. Neither of them had patriotism in mind when they had to go fight. Now that enrolling is a individual and voluntary act, I'd like to know to what extent patriotism influences a choice to enroll.
I watched what footage I could find on the subject, and two movies stood out from this. First Michael Moore's depiction of the US army's strategies to approach and convince young americans to join the forces. Though I do not agree with Moore's simplified use of strategic footage, you have to acknowledge that some of the kids sent over to the Middle East don't seem to have a clear idea of why they should actually agree with the agenda that is sending them over there. "Gunner Palace" showed how soldiers lived in Baghdad, and try to put forward the work being done over there, why soldiers chose to serve. There again, the concept of patriotism was more as a set of beliefs and values that were usually considered as given and undisputable.
From the comment left on your blog, your poem appears to be a very accurate portrayal of a member of the US forces. Such men put so much energy, time and risk in what they do that selflessness, a poor pay and faith do not seem enough to justify such a decision. Hence, I can grasp why you stated that
"He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free for over 200 years."
Patriotism seems to be the overarching idea that could actually convince anybody to join the army. But when you refer to the freedom of the US, this is where I have a hard time understanding what is the purpose of the US patriotism displayed today: How is the prolongated presence US forces in Iraq contributing to United States' freedom? The patriotism you seem to refer to seems quite devoid of the primary affection one can attach to his country. Don't you think that if the US is to continue sending troops and working in Iraq, it should reconsider why and how they sell the patriot trademark to the men and women they convince to join the US efforts? What does it mean to be a patriot in these times? A strong, unmoveable and misunderstood conception of freedom based on the founding myth of a country? Or a collective process that tries to look at why free will and democracy can be nurtured by patriotism?

25 November, 2005 23:00  
Blogger Rene Daniele said...

Rene said....
This poem left me to believe that we as Americans are doing our part in our country's history. The reason why. American's have to ask the question of why did we go and fight over in Iraq? The reason, so we can free other nation's. So they too can have the freedom's that we have. They deserve it after what Saddam did to his people. The children weren't going to school like our children do, instead they were being recruited to kill anyone who stood in the way. That is just so wrong. I'm not sure how you see it but I know I wouldn't want my children to be recruited by someone to kill everyone in the free world. The people over in Iraq were not free. Now they are. The reason for being in Afganistan is because of Saddam. The poem is true of every boy who joins the service. They don't know what is going on, they are barely old enough to be on their own. And yes they don't know what they are getting themselves into. But they see all of this and they come back home and they fall apart. My husband is serving in Iraq right now. He is fighting to save Iraqi lives. So they can be free. I wasn't for the war either but now I have changed my mind. I know better now. The Iraqi children didn't even know what candy was until the American soliders showed one of them. I know we are not the only country over fighting for our lives. The reason why we are fighting this war is because of terrorism on our soil. Millions of people died on 9/11 which they didn't have to but they did because of terrorism. We have to get terrorism under control. The countries that are funding terrorism need to have a little scare in them. So they know what will happen if they mess with the United States of America. I am grateful for all of fallen soldiers who tried to help in the war on terrorism. I hope one day we will all be able to live without terrorism. But if you think about it if you step out your door you are fighting terrorism yourself, because you are fighting to stay alive. You could walk out your door and wind up dead. I hope one day all of our soldiers will be home and safe in the arms of loved ones. I am proud my husband is serving in the War on Terrorism. I am also proud that he will be safe one of these day's and so will our children.
God speed and Be Safe all our soldiers. Thank you for defending our country....We miss all our soldiers...Especially our children...Be Safe everyone everywhere....

27 November, 2005 20:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that is wonderful. My heart mourns for all those consumed by the effort. With all due respect. I ask one question. How long before thier job entails disarming us?

RNader(not the politician)

29 November, 2005 10:53  

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