The United States Military is a special organization of men and women who share a camaraderie that many civilians have a very difficult time understanding. Who among typical work-a-day Americans could find the phrase, duty, honor, country anything more than just a phrase?
It is so much more to those who are under arms. Soldiers know that they are part of something bigger. They understand that they are the guardians of our Republic. They serve under an ethos of loyalty, leadership and brotherly love. Especially in a time of war.
Consider the words of Retired Col. Clark Welch, a highly decorated veteran, speaking at Fort Drum at a seminar in 2006.
“What possesses men to stand up and move forward when the men to the left and right of him are getting killed?” Welch asked rhetorically of the camaraderie between Soldiers. “How you keep Soldiers alive? You love them. You love them, and you lead them.”
I’ve been on the periphery of this camaraderie for the thirty plus years I have been an army wife and I’ve witnessed the selfless service of countless soldiers, in officer and enlisted ranks.
I’ve recently discovered a perfect example of the noble American soldier linked at Blackfive. It was an email of a post by Chaplain Jim Higgins on 5/14/07 from LSA Anaconda, Iraq:
“I recently attended a showing of “Superman 3″ here at LSA Anaconda.
We have a large auditorium we use for movies as well as memorial services and other large gatherings.
As is the custom back in the States, we stood and snapped to attention when the National Anthem began before the main feature. All was going as planned until about three-quarters of the way through the National Anthem the music stopped.
Now, what would happen if this occurred with 1,000 18-22 year-olds back in the States?
I imagine there would be hoots, catcalls, laughter, a few rude comments, and everyone would sit down and call for a movie. Of course, that is, if they had stood for the National Anthem in the first place.
Here, the 1,000 soldiers continued to stand at attention, eyes fixed forward. The music started again. The soldiers continued to quietly stand at attention. And again, at the same point, the music stopped [mid-anthem].
What would you expect to happen?
Even here I would imagine laughter as everyone sat down and expected the movie to start.
Here, you could have heard a pin drop. Every soldier stood at attention. Suddenly there was a lone voice, then a dozen, and quickly the room was filled with the voices of a thousand soldiers:
‘And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?’
It was the most inspiring moment I have had here in Iraq.
I wanted you to know what kind of Soldiers are serving you here.
When my husband, Bob was a cadet at West Point he went to the post theater to see the premier of the movie, Patton.
Movies were a privilege at West Point so all cadets who could, were thrilled to go. Every movie began with the National Anthem as it did in every military post at that time. The cadets understood they must stand at attention for the National Anthem. The audience was made up of cadets, some officers and some dates of the senior cadets.
Bob was with a bunch of cadets. On this particular day, the projection started differently.
Normally when the National Anthem began, the movie screen would depict a flag waving on a flagpole. Suddenly the movie screen showed a gigantic flag covering the whole screen. There was no sound at all. All the cadets stood up and assumed the position of attention as they waited for the music of the National Anthem.
Bob just thought they had changed the format as did many others. But, the music didn’t start. Nothing. Just silence. Then, it sounded like someone was walking, with the footsteps getting louder and louder. The sound of a bugle. Suddenly, George C. Scott’s helmet appeared and it looked like he was walking onto the stage.
He came to the center of the picture and he looked around the theater as if he were inspecting the cadets. Then he said, “Be seated.”
All the cadets sat down. Patton began his speech.
Now, I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.
He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.
Men all this stuff you’ve heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war is a lot of horse dung.
Americans traditionally love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle.
When you were kids you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, big-leagueball players, the toughest boxers.
Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time.
I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans.
Now an army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap.
The bilious bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for the Saturday Evening Post don’t know anything more about real battle than they do about fornicating.
Now we have the finest food and equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world.
You know, by God, I actually pity those poor bastards we’re going up against.
By God, I do.
We’re not just going to shoot the bastards, we’re going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We’re going to murder those lousy Hun bastards by the bushel.
Now, some of you boys, I know are wondering whether or not you’ll chicken out under fire. Don’t worry about it. I can assure you that you will all do your duty.
The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them! Spill their blood! Shoot them in the belly! When you put your hand into a bunch of goo that a moment before was your best friend’s face you’ll know what to do.
There’s another thing I want you to remember. I don’t want to get any messages saying we are “holding our position. “We’re not “holding” anything. Let the Hun do that.
We’re advancing constantly. We’re not interested in holding on to anything except the enemy.
We’re going to hold on to him by the nose and kick him in the ass. We’re going to kick the hell
out of him all the time and we’re going to go through him like crap through a goose!
Now there’s one thing that you men will be able to say when you get back home.
And you may thank God for it. Thirty years from now when you’re sitting around your fireside
with your grandson on your knee and he asks you: “What did you do in the great World War ll?”
You won’t have to say: “Well, I shovelled shit in Louisiana. “All right, now, you sons of bitches. You know how I feel. I will be proud to lead you wonderful guys into battle anytime, anywhere.
When he finished he turned and walked off the stage. As he turned, the cadets all stood back up to attention. One of the female dates in the row behind my husband said, “Wow, this gives me chills.” And as Scott playing Patton left, the cadets errupted in cheers.
Needless to say, the movie was a hit with the cadets.