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Isn't it pretty?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Thoughts from an Ex-Marine

I have a co-worker who used to be in the Marines, and is still very dedicated to our country. I was talking to him yesterday about the war in Iraq and he made some interesting comments that I thought I would share. First, I asked him if he feels strange not being in Iraq. He told me he does, that if it wasn't for his wife, he would probably have reenlisted by now. Though he admitted that there is no guarantee that he would be in Iraq anyway. But he did say that his best friend is there now, and he hasn't heard from him since before Christmas. He is worried about him, though he absolutely believes that his friend is doing the right thing. I told him that I thought I would have an extremely difficult time being in the Army - I would have a lot of trouble wielding a weapon, and even though I understand that the US is fighting for freedom, I don't know if I could bring myself to ever hurt another person physically. He told me that he thinks every person should have the opportunity to serve in the military. He thinks it is the civic duty of citizens to defend their country and is an invaluable experience. I mentioned the torture that some soldiers have instigated on POWs. I said that I couldn't quite understand what would make a man do that to another human being. But I could definitely see that the pressures of being in battle would bring out either the absolute best or the absolute worst in a person. He agreed with me. He said that what was interesting to him during boot camp was that the men he would never guess would crumble, were the first to do so. The biggest, toughest guys were the ones to run crying for their mothers. And the ones you wouldn't naturally see as the strongest were the ones who turned into heroes. He told me that he can not help but cry every time he reads the stories behind the medal recipients. Because he is my age, and went into the military young, I asked him whether he really thought 18-year-olds are equipped to fight and be in the kind of emotional and physical pressure that war elicits. He told me yes, that it doesn't matter what age a man is, his reaction will be the same, and that war makes a man of many. It was interesting hearing all this from someone who has some experience of it. He was never in active combat, but he saw a lot in his years in the Marines. I respect those who are defending our country and freedom today, especially since I am not sure whether I could handle it. It takes a lot.


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