“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth a war, is much worse…A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”- John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy
Every year around this time, I reminisce to what I was doing right at the moment by the hour in 2003. I remember being on hurry to write the final words to my wife before the move. It was a slow motion scene as everyone was picking up camp. As I signed “with love” I looked up and saw the columns upon columns of military vehicles, and soldiers scrambling to get ready. We were going to war.
By now, we have been drying in the desert for a while waiting for something to happen. In many ways some of us would resound the running cadence “…somebody, anybody, start a war hey!” As time when by, the hope of going home faded and the Babylonian Desert became our purgatory. We pondered and pondered on what was about to happen with no knowledge of the world back home. To many this was a waste of time, and to be forward it was in many ways, but it was in this time were we all discovered the call to brotherhood. A call that did not get invented or was imposed upon us. As Aristotle would say a call that was no accident, rather we discovered the essence of what is instilled in every human. We discovered the reason to willingly give up our lives for others. Brotherhood!
I heard the chanting of war (Courtesy of Dartanyhun (We’ ready)) That filled the space with anticipation. Yet some still were scrambling to get ready. Nevertheless war was in the air. As moving is that was what it is engraved in my heart is seeing men from the four corners of the United States standing together in the face of adversity at the gate of destiny. Courage was the mood and the dream of going home hidden deep in our minds.
A time where politics, ethnicity, religion, social status, age, and education did not divide us. Some say it was the true image of heaven. An image that banded us together forever and an image that may not be seen again until the next age. That day we joined the ranks of those who crossed Delaware River, those who stood firm against oppressors, those who took up arms in the name of freedom, those who defeated the strongest army in the world, those who rushed the beaches of Normandy, those who repelled armies at the Battle of Ia Drang, those who rappelled in Grenada, those who jumped in Panama, those who walked the mean streets of Mogadishu. That day we became brothers in arms with the infantrymen before us. That day was the beginning of who we are, soldiers in the pages of history.
After coming home the war never left us. I am not sure if any of us can recovered from such a drastic change from cruel boredom to unbelievable adrenaline rush. It many ways we are still in Iraq fighting the battle to stay alive. All of us are still fighting the war inside of us in one way or another. We are grieving for the lives past, the friendships loss, and the innocence gone. We are fighting the wounds without the support of our comrades. We’re tending to wounds that only few understand and even fewer share the pain. Brothers! We are soldiers without an army, but we are soldiers indeed. Never give up, perform self body care, and call for a medic when in need. Bless you! It is honor to have served with you.
“Our Country, Not Ourselves.”