Soldiers' Tales: The Truth of Morale and Duty in the US Armed Forces
"Men, this stuff that some sources sling around about America wanting out of this war, not wanting to fight, is a crock of bullshit. Americans love to fight, traditionally. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle. You are here today for three reasons. First, because you are here to defend your homes and your loved ones. Second, you are here for your own self respect, because you would not want to be anywhere else. Third, you are here because you are real men and all real men like to fight. When you, here, everyone of you, were kids, you all admired the champion marble player, the fastest runner, the toughest boxer, the big league ball players, and the All-American football players. Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American."
"...All of the real heroes are not storybook combat fighters, either. Every single man in this Army plays a vital role. Don't ever let up. Don't ever think that your job is unimportant. Every man has a job to do and he must do it. Every man is a vital link in the great chain."
"...One of the bravest men that I ever saw was a fellow on top of a telegraph pole in the midst of a furious fire fight in Tunisia. I stopped and asked what the hell he was doing up there at a time like that. He answered, "Fixing the wire, Sir". I asked, "Isn't that a little unhealthy right about now?" He answered, "Yes Sir, but the goddamned wire has to be fixed". I asked, "Don't those planes strafing the road bother you?" And he answered, "No, Sir, but you sure as hell do!" Now, there was a real man. A real soldier. There was a man who devoted all he had to his duty, no matter how seemingly insignificant his duty might appear at the time, no matter how great the odds. All day and all night they [the trucks] rolled over those son-of-a-bitching roads, never stopping, never faltering from their course, with shells bursting all around them all of the time. We got through on good old American guts. Many of those men drove for over forty consecutive hours. These men weren't combat men, but they were soldiers with a job to do. They did it, and in one hell of a way they did it. They were part of a team. Without team effort, without them, the fight would have been lost. All of the links in the chain pulled together and the chain became unbreakable..."
..."Sure, we want to go home. We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home."
General George S. Patton, ladies and gentlemen. This speech was reportedly delivered somewhere in England, immediately preceeding the commencement of Operation Overlord in WW II.
I use it as an example of the sense of duty and pride held by the American fighting man and woman. If the reader prefers a more modern example, how about this:
"...As the movie quoted old General Patton, "God help me, I love it." I do. Nothing more satisfying than working with the BEST damn soldiers in the world, flushing real human poop down the drain and giving some folks a chance at trying freedom for a change. They may learn to like it and then my great-great-grandson won't have to worry about some maniac trying to destroy the planet."
The complete letter can be found at The Military City
The examples cited above serve to illustrate the spirit of the American warrior. Despite everything the press might publish in 2003, the Coalition is not stuck in a "quagmire". There is no "lowered" morale. We are not facing another Viet Nam.
My father served in Viet Nam. I remember asking him, while in my teens, why he fought in that "Asian police action", knowing that he would be despised for it back home? He sat quietly for a moment, puffing his cigar, before replying in his lilting North Carolinian drawl, "The Vietnamese were having their basic rights stripped away. I have always enjoyed being a free man. I thought I should give a little back, and maybe help those folks win their freedom from tyranny the way we won ours." He puffed for a few minutes longer before adding, "And I don't give a hoot in hell what anyone thinks of that. I did what I thought was right. It's all anyone can do."
After that, our conversation turned to other matters. But I remembered that discussion on the porch, and I've used it to exemplify a rare breed of person.
My father, and warriors like him, do not feel entitled
to freedom. They realize that it is a hard-earned gift that must be closely guarded and defended, even at the cost of their life. They realize that those who lay down are often walked on, and they cite examples like Nazi Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Viet Nam, Korea, and the Middle East. Despots, I am instructed, can only thrive when the people allow it.
People are empowered to withstand facism of any flavor when they are armed and vigilant. When a militia--an army
--stands sworn to defend an ideal like the Constitution of the United States of America, it is very difficult for a dictator to seize supreme power. So precious is the gift of freedom to people who volunteer for service in the American Armed Forces, that they cannot conceive that anyone, anywhere, would be willing to surrender it without a fight. Therefore, when America hears a plaintive cry for help from elsewhere on the globe, we roll up our sleeves, and we jump in to help. We're like the self-sufficient kid on the playground who will stand up and blacken the bully's eye, only to turn with a friendly smile and help the harrassed kid off the ground. We don't care that there are other kids on the playground who saw the bully and did nothing, although we will remember their faces, and distrust them. We don't care that the bully may have lackeys who may come looking to continue the quarrel. All we care about is that we saw someone who was unable to defend him or herself getting hurt. Since it wasn't right, we lent a hand. Then, we go on to make sure that yesterday's victim will be tomorrow's playground hero.
That's not imperialism. That's community spirit. That is what we are seeing in Iraq. So abused, downtrodden, and hungry were the good people of that country that we could not allow the bully to continue raping and murdering them. Whatever people may say about President Bush's "eight words", the fact of the matter is that someone needed to help Iraq. Since we are the people who know firsthand about achieving victory over oppression, we are best qualified to help the people of Iraq learn how to govern themselves and stand strong.
When we've finished, we'll pick up our toys and go home, after straightening up after ourselves. We always do.
The desire to help Iraq was born from the immediate and urgent need to protect our homeland. In the wake of 9/11, many people screamed "why", and tried to find an explanation for the murder of over 3,000 people. Some folks decided to blame America for many different reasons. We were "too capitalist", or "too arrogant", or "too parochial". These people laid the blame at this nation's feet.
To many of us, that's as repugnant as blaming the victim for getting raped.
America is not to blame for the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. The people to blame are the terrorists. They murdered 3,000 people
. The terrorists shattered families casually. They raped our national soul, and some among us are letting them get away with it.
But not all of us. There are many who believe that the blame should be laid at the feet of those accountable. We quickly learned that our assailant came out the Middle East, and intelligence gave us the names of the most culpable.
We've gone after them with focus and determination. The images of 9/11 are seared into the inner eye of most of us. Our fighting women and men have gone to make sure that another attack is not visited on our--their--home towns. They march proactively to capture or kill those who would love to see you, me, and our families laying horribly maimed and dead. A measure of our soldiers' success is the fact that at the time of this writing, 43 of the US Army's "55 Most Wanted" have been taken. Of those 43, only two have been killed--Uday and Qusay Hussein. The others are in custody.
That is the sense of loyalty and duty that galvanizes our troops, and yes, even our adminstration. There is more to a war on terror than "never forget". There is also the impetus to never allow it to happen again.
To that end, we fight. We know that, "The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it. "
Our people bleed on foreign soil, yes. But even more of the enemy are bleeding. What's more, they flee before us like the cowards they are. They are learning that you do not attack America and count your future sunrises in terms of years.
There *is* hope!
I found an excellent post by The Laughing Wolf
A journalist, he presents a very well-reasoned argument why embedded reporters were a good idea in Iraq. I quite agree.
It's just too bad that the backline assholes in the airconditioned newsrooms could never wait for full detail before screaming hysterically about this-or-that.
I like the idea that these embedded reporters, returning home, have been infected with memes of truth, and that a revolution in Mass Media will soon be brewing; indeed, is brewing already.
I like the image of that. I'll continue a supporting action with my own obscure offerings.