For you Young Veterans, there are a few things that you can take away from your experiences in these new wars. Just like us Old Timers did back in Korea and Vietnam. Consider this: You’re fighting for your fellow Warriors, because you’ve chosen to be a Warrior. Just that simple. And you “Know” and “Feel” things now, you couldn’t possibly have known or felt unless you were in a war. As an example, I fought for my fellow Marines, the Marine Corps, and the principles of Honor that I believed in, even if others “didn’t” believe in them. My reasons, my justifications, my disappointments, became a very personal matter, only to be understood by other Warriors who shared in the same experiences, the same theaters of battle.
I have always loved this country, just not some of the people running it. And in all fairness, there still are some real good politicians around, if they just don’t get sniped before they have a chance to do something useful for our Nation.
So each of you is gonna’ have to decide what makes sense to you, what makes you feel good about the “Whys?” And rest assured, you will figure it out. You Youngins are a lot smarter than this Old Marine was, and it won’t take you so long, if you haven’t already done it. But remember, if along in the figurin’, you start to hatin’, “hate only makes you miserable”. So don’t hate anyone, just feel better when they’re not around.
Alright then, besides the “wake up call” and the “whys?”, while you’re sittin’ around on your ass eatin’ MREs (Meals Ready to Excrete), lets consider some of the other “Gifts” you’ve received from war.
First and foremost, you have truly learned the “Meaning of Honor”. That will stay with you for the rest of your life. Those who do not live by a Code of Truth and Honor are dishonorable. That’s just the way I see it, black and white. And you may have to exercise a little patience, because sometimes it takes awhile to express this in your life, according to the high standards it demands from us all. So don’t be to quick to judge, because everyone may not be as far along as you are, but still on the way. And especially, don’t judge yourself. Everyone makes mistakes and has a bad day. If you can, just don’t make the same mistake twice.
You now know the meaning of “True Friendship”. That is to say, a bond of loyalty and trust that goes beyond words. And that will be your standard for every relationship you ever have.
Your strength of character and willingness to sacrifice for others has been tested, and proven you worthy to be called a Warrior, in the most intense and extreme conditions the battlefield has to offer. This has taught you your limits and abilities in any situation you will ever confront.
And my friends, you have come to know the “Nobility of the Human Spirit”. It has been said that, “When conditions are at their very worst, human beings are at their very best”. And you have seen first-hand, the very best and the very worst that humanity has to offer. This understanding will serve you as a guide, that you do not judge others for their weakness, and help those without your level of strength.
You have painfully come to know the “Frailty of Life”, how delicate is the line between the living and death. This knowing makes all life precious, to be taken only as a last resort, never without just cause, and protected at all cost.
You have also learned the value of living “Each Moment” of every day, taking “nothing” for granted, and cherishing each and every experience of Joy that comes your way.
You have learned to believe that “And this too Shall Pass”, when at times you feel you are pressed beyond your limits, and conditions seem physically and mentally unbearable. But you also know that “any” situation can always get worse, therefore you are content that its not as bad as it could be.
With all of your abilities you prepare for battle, and yet pray to God that battle never comes. And through this, you learn to be forever vigilant, and yet forever grateful for the quiet moment, for the peace that comes unexpectedly, passes too quickly, yet does not go unnoticed.
These my Brothers and Sisters “are” the Gifts of War. Gifts that have indeed come at a very high price. And yet, would you now really choose to give them up, to go back to a time before you held this “Knowing?” Would you now truly choose to become that person you were, or live the life you once led? I don’t. And once you get through a bit of work, I doubt that you will either.
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Don’t know if you caught it earlier in your reading. You ready? Here it is: Once you Know, you can never not know again. Think about it.
So then, cherish your gifts of War and your gifts of Life, plan your new future, and get on with living it. The choice is “Yours”. Choose “Wisely”.