"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Monday, December 8, 2014

War: Some are Better Prepared: by Frank Fox

Frank Fox
After reading Keith Brown's post, [Christmas Time: The Heavy Heart of War], I just want to say, "Keith, thank you for your service for your country and the many brothers you had in uniform.

Thank you for your excellent obligation to follow orders. You know, if we all had been able to be individualist, we would have had no band of brothers throughout time. You have upheld your oath: 'follow the orders of those appointed over me' and persevered to make it home."

There is no glamour in War, only brutality and loss. Young American soldiers don't see it every day of their existence, but the people in the countries we visit lately do -- they have been fighting for generations. It's all they know and they prefer death over the sub-existence lives they live. 

For young Americans, we hold onto the hope of a future without war. I don't think there is any red blooded American who would not lay down his life for a justifiable reason. It is the American fighting man who has been exploited. 

Did we really lose all those young men just so we could put the crap from China and Vietnam on the shelves of retail outlets? It seems so. 

We have to do something different. There have been too many men wasted because of inflated egos and big business. LBJ and Bush will answer to a higher authority ...

Good men should never blame themselves for following orders. It was what they trained us to do, and we all had to think as one, whether we were friends, or not. When the chips were down, we were one purpose. We fought to live -- our enemies fought to die.

As Keith said in his post, he and many others don't sleep well because the brutality of war carves such deep images. We want to look at life as a valuable journey filled with hope and peace, and we owe it to those we lost to prevent the loss from continuing.

It's different for many young American warriors going to war, or just being in the military. Many young men led privileged lives. They were spoiled, never had chores, their clothes were always clean and hanging in the closet of their own bedroom, homes were always neat and clean, Mom and Dad bought them a car when they got a license, and someone else mowed the yard, etc.

For me, going into the military was like a vacation. I had a bed of my own; I ate better; I had a better wardrobe, and I was already used to elders fighting and cussing. We didn't always have warm water at home and I had to do my own laundry, while Uncle Sam helped me after boot camp.

During boot camp, we washed our clothes by hand on a concrete table, like I had done at home -- but now I got paid for it. Life was better for me in the service than it was at home. Coming from my family's niche in the community, my station in life meant always having to prove myself .

Children can be crueler than adults with one another, and push always comes to shove for those of lesser status. Then when it's necessary to fight with peers, because you still have pride, you're called a hoodlum, or a thug.

Many different kinds of men and women end up in uniform to be re-programmed. To many, following rules and conformity is a stark reality. To others, it is like Bible school. While it makes everyone equal, some are just better prepared to cope with it. Those who are used to adversity on the streets at home, have the advantage. They are self-trained to always expect things to be difficult, developing almost a sixth sense.

To many advantaged young Americans, war and warring can be very traumatic, compared to those who came from strife all through their adolescent lives. 

Me, my brother, and sisters had to sleep in our family car many times, often on school nights, because the man my mother married (not my Dad) was drunk, violent, and in the house. Now days, police are only too happy to remove a drunk from a home. It wasn't that way in the late 50' or 60's.

I was the only one of four children to finish high school. My sisters got married before they finished school, just so they could leave home. I joined the Navy in 1964. When I left for the military, that just left my brother, and I am sorry for that, as he took the path of least resistance and dropped out of school. One thing led to another, and my brother and I stepped up to a better life by joining the military and not being drafted.

I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm only saying that some young American men are better prepared mentally for what happens than others. I would rather all children have better formative years, although our nation's leaders seem to be committed to making sure that doesn't happen.

I am better now for what my life was like, but would rather it had been different in many ways. I'll never know for sure. 

Hardship does make one a better teacher of the pitfalls of life, but students of life don't always listen to the voice of experience ...

Frank Fox
Combat Medic
Sea/Air Rescue
US Navy with USMC
August 1964 – August 1970 (6 years 1 month)

More Articles by Frank Fox:

Our Generation
The Marine and the Cure
More Thoughts on War and Youth
Opinions, Thoughts and Feelings
A Different Perspective

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

Feel free to comment on this post. You are also invited to write about anything you want to share. Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog. You are writing America's history.

Send it to me in an e-mail and I will be proud to post it for you.

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