Sunday, July 15, 2012

WHY DO SOLDIERS FIGHT?


I posted this because I wanted to make a point.  When wars start men and women die.  They don't set policy, they carry it out.  I never heard or thought about high-minded policy decisions.  It was about survival.  Soldiers fight for each other.  They don't fight for high-minded ideals.  That may draw them in, but it doesn't give them the will to fight.  I think in the abstract soldiers know why they're there, but really it's pretty basic.  Get out alive.  Why do soldiers do it?  I think there is inculcated in soldiers a sense of duty.  Whether it's to your country or to some revolutionary cause.  Although those revolutionary causes are at their root countries, right?  Nationalism and all that. 

It's easy to hate these German soldiers as instruments of Hitler.  However, I don't think that was at their core.  I think they felt they were fighting for their country and its survival.  Most soldiers are idealistic.  I know I was.  I felt it was my duty to fight.  I went willingly and I came back feeling I'd done my part.  When I got back, I found out a lot of Americans didn't see it my way.  That confused me and I just didn't get it.  Didn't these people know what we had done for them?  We went and did what they didn't want to do and they hated us for it? 

All my life I was raised to accept responsibility.  By that I mean, when something needs to be done don't look to someone else, do it.  My religion told me this, my parents told me this and I was raised to accept that someone has to do it, so move on, man.  It's your duty as an American.  You live in the greatest country in the world so you owe it something.  When it calls go and do your part. 

I hate when the intellectual elites put it on service people that you're aren't the best and brightest.  After all, who would get their ass shot off for their country?  Well, I guess I would.  I consider myself to be reasonably intelligent.  I also consider myself to owe my country a debt.   It allowed me to thrive.  My father had a job good enough so that his family survived.  We didn't have a lot of stuff, but we were OK.  The G.I. bill helped him buy a house and we lived and I had a good childhood.  My dad tought me that if you want  something work for it.  Don't depend on other people to give it to you.  Work and you'll survive.  I wish I had a lot of money, but I don't envy those who do.  I have something that is absolutely precious to me.  I do something important.  I teach life lessons to kids.  The very lessons my dad taught to me.  Work and you'll succeed.  There is no alternative. 

I have an education.  I use it to pass on life lessons to the next generation.  My dad was proud of me and that's all that matters.

14 comments:

Z said...

Would you believe I got teary-eyed at the speech? One reason is I understood 80% of it without the translation and that felt good(I haven't heard German a lot since Mr. Z died) and the other reason is those men deserved what THEY heard as much as our guys did.
You're right, L&O; they fought for their countries, too. Many despised Hitler.
At the German cemetery near ours in Normandy is a sign over the entry that says this:

"Until 1947, this was an American cemetery. The remains were exhumed and shipped to the United States. It has been German since 1948, and contains over 21,000 graves. With its melancholy rigour, it is a graveyard for soldiers not all of whom had chosen either the cause or the fight. They too have found rest in our soil of France."

Here is a link with photos. It was so moving to me to photograph my husband as he walked through this cemetery; his father died in WWII; he crashed into a lake while perfecting Auto Pilot and got his colleague out but died in the attempt....... he's not at the cemetery but you can imagine how it felt to Mr. Z

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Cambe_German_war_cemetery

just thought you'd be interested. I hope so.

I love your post but I am ashamed to realize again that I'm quite sure I couldn't have done what you did. I love my country, I just don't get where that amazing courage to lay down your life comes from.
I adore how much you care about your dad. That really touched me.

Thanks for that wonderful piece.

Rita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Law and Order Teacher said...

Z,
That wasn't my intent, although I think it's cool that Mr. Z is still around, right? I am always interested in history. If there's one thing that resonates with me it's that in wars the lines aren't so clearly drawn as we think.

Soldiers don't have the luxury of setting policy, they are the ones, for good or evil, that carry it out. Mr. Z's father, my father and grandfather didn't have any say in anything that happened to them. They did their duty.

I'll look at the pictures and try to see your husband. I feel I know him. Thanks for the visit.

Rita said...

Thank you Sir for your service and sacrifice. I only wish we could repay our soldiers for their service.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Rita,
Thanks for the visit. I read your article and felt the pain of your loss. I made it back. Many didn't.

Rita said...

It was my husband's loss LO. I only experience it through his nightmares that he now seems to have so often. Apparently there are a number of Vietnam Vets that are only now "allowing" themselves to suffer through the nightmare they lived. I cannot imagine what you guys went through and then to be treated so poorly by the country you fought for is unimaginable.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Rita,
It's really a good thing to join something like the American Legion. I stayed away from these groups because I put it out of my mind and went on with my life. Now I am willing to go there and I am feeling again what I felt when I was young. It's good to get rid of it. It was a long time ago.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Rita,
BTW, try encourage him to get into something like the American Legion as a place to share his experiences. It's really a good thing to share with his fellow soldiers. I'll be here for him if he wants to talk to someone.

Z said...

My photos aren't there, I guess you saw that's just the Wikipedia link....
I do have photos, however...precious now that Mr. Z's passed away. (it's almost 3 years, I can't believe it)

I will try to get you a picture of my Mr. Z somehow....I think you'd have liked each other big time.

Ducky's here said...

Didn't these people know what we had done for them?

-----
Why don't you believe people can make that determination for themselves.

We've all been though some indoctrination and the soldier is absolutely no exception.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Z,
Thanks. I would love to see it. I kind of feel as though I know him somehow.

Ducky,
I was expressing feelings I had when I was 19 years old and returning to the U.S. My older self knows better.

Average American said...

Howdy LOT, nice post as usual. Always brings back a memory or two whenever I read anything about Nam, but it's not so bad now as it was back then. As I have said many times before, War REALLY sucks when the worst part of it is coming back home. People that weren't there can NEVER know that feeling, and I'm glad they can't.

Lisa said...

The concept is amazing. k. Extremely well documented LAW Job Duties

Law and Order Teacher said...

AA, Lisa,
Thanks for the visit. It's a memory trigger for me too but it's getting less and less all the time.