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.
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.
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.
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.
US Navy with USMC
August 1964 – August 1970 (6 years 1 month)
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
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