"But, nevertheless, the generation that carried on the war has been set apart by its experience. Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing." Oliver Wendell Holmes
"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
27 April 2010
Troops Who Fade
Bestie has had a tough couple of weeks. If you pray, now is a good time to send up some words to encourage his spirit. "I'm pretty sure I'm reaching the breaking point emotionally... mentally..."
The things that cross his path, every Marine's path, are things that haunt. Washing the blood out of a Marine brother out of a vehicle. Analyzing the aftermath of a battle in an outpost somewhere. The devastation war brings to the innocents...and the not so innocent. Traveling the roads, limbs pulled close to body armor, like a turtle, waiting...waiting...waiting to be hit. Shoot? Don't shoot? Take a mission? Send a subordinate...what if he is wounded or killed and it should have been me? Saluting the bodies, the flag-covered transfer cases of Marines and ISAF as they begin their final journey home....
All things we would protect our loved ones from if we could. All things, if we are honest, we want to protect ourselves from.
Isn't that why most Americans switch the channel when the war comes on? Can we be bothered to look through the window at their lives?
The Afghan Adventure is moments of terror, ugliness, and fear. Then it is long days, weeks of repetition. Same bad food. Same clothes. Same scenery. Same ache of missing family and home and friends. A roller-coaster of ups and downs. It is the slowly shutting down of emotions and humanity in order to get from one day to the next. To get home.
Wilfred Owen, Eugene Sledge, and a hundred other soldiers have said it..."Compassion for the sufferings of others is a burden to those who have it...those who feel the most for others suffer most in war." E.B. Sledge, With the Old Breed
I Happy are men who yet before they are killed Can let their veins run cold. Whom no compassion fleers Or makes their feet Sore on the alleys cobbled with their brothers. The front line withers. But they are troops who fade, not flowers, II And some cease feeling Even themselves or for themselves. Dullness best solves The tease and doubt of shelling, And Chance's strange arithmetic Comes simpler than the reckoning of their shilling. They keep no check on armies' decimation.
III Happy are these who lose imagination: They have enough to carry with ammunition.
Bestie has compassion in spades...
War is helplessness. There is a nothing a person can do back here for their best friend or their spouse but pray. Send a package. Send a letter. Hope that it raises his spirits. Hope that it eases your own fear for that person. Hope it eases your own desire to take away their pain, their struggle, in some way. Because you cannot see his face, or hear his voice, you cannot tell if he is feeling better after venting, or still struggling. Somehow, you must make peace with the helplessness.
"One of the LCpls is singing the 'Oompa Loompa song from Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory. The movies got the soundtrack all wrong. War isn't rock...war is nursery rhymes, TGIF theme songs, and Nirvana tracks. War is the music from your childhood. " Chris Ayers, War Reporting for Cowards
War is the tv shows that acted as your babysitters. Marines gathered around a laptop watching Boy Meets World, crying when Chet abandons Shawn. Laughing at the cherry bomb episode. Fee-eee-heeneey!!! calls. Back to a time without war, without worry.
"Because war, when it's not making you kill or be killed, turns you into an infant." ..even as it turns you into a man.