"I'm sorry I must leave, but I must do what is asked of me by my God, my Country, and my Corps.. and so, the war blog begins, again." ~B

01 October 2009

Historical Moments

I have been rereading Nathanial Fick's One Bullet Away this week.

His story is interesting due to its connections to HBO's documentary Generation Kill, as well as the Evan Wright book by the same name. It is interesting to hear his perspective on the portrayed events.

I specifically chose to reread it because of work I am doing with my alma mater's newly formed Office of Veteran's Affairs. Fick breaks his narrative into three parts: Peace, War, and Aftermath. It is the Aftermath that I was interested in rereading, as he relates his experience reentering academia after the Corps. As often happens though, another scene grabbed my attention.

On the last page of "Peace," Fick describes being in port, in Darwin, Australia on September 11, 2001. He and his fellow LTs learn about the attack in a bar, joining the crowd around a big-screen tv. This is the moment their world changed, and they knew it. He quotes one Lt: "Fellas, history just bent us over."

He then describes the scene, as thousands of Marines and Sailors flood the streets of Darwin, heading back to the docks and their ships. He describes an Australian couple who pull up to see if they need a ride, which he and his friends accept. They are dropped off at the pier, where the ships are lit by floodlights and armed sentries stood along the rails. The scene ends with the driver shaking their hands and remarking: "Guess you blokes are headed for war."

What an image. What an historical moment. What did the Australians think, watching all these young men and women streaming from the nightclubs and bars, suddenly sober and deadly serious? To be members of a foreign military, in a foreign port, when your nation is under attack, and it is your job to defend it... Fick does a captivating job of nailing this moment where their lives changed. No longer were they serving in peacetime. When they stepped back onto their ships, they knew they would lead their men in war. And the Australian couple who drove them to the pier...do they wonder if all the men who rode in their car made it home? Do they know how they feature in this memory?

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