Saturday, November 14, 2009

Half-boy, Half-man

I received this as an email and wish I had gotten it in time for Veteran's Day.  This one is near and dear to my heart because I have 3 brothers, a brother-in-law, a nephew and a niece and my significant other who are all veterans of the Army and Marines.  Four of them are/were career Military.    Since I'll be traveling on Saturday and Sunday, I scheduled this to appear while I'm away.   

1/2 boy 1/2 man

The average age of the military man is 19 years. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country. He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father's, but he has never collected unemployment either.

He's a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student,
pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away.

He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and a 155mm howitzer.

He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk. He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark. He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must.

He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional.

He can march until he is told to stop, or stop until he is told to march.

He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity.

He is self-sufficient.

He has two sets of fatigues: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps
his canteens full and his feet dry.

He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts.

If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He'll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low.

He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his hands.

He can save your life - or take it, because that is his job.

He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay, and still find ironic humor in it all.

He has seen more suffering and death than he should have in his short lifetime.

He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed..

He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while
at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to 'square-away ' those around him who haven't bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking. (John will stand at attention during the National Anthem, even if we're watching a game on TV)

In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful.

Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying
the price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy. He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free for over 200 years.

He has asked nothing in return, except our friendship and understanding.

Remember him, always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with
his blood.

And now we even have women over there in danger, doing their part in this
tradition of going to War when our nation calls them to do so.


bernthis said...

this was so beautiful Joanie, I even stumbled it. That is a good thing. I want others to see this.

Also, it was thanks to you and your comment re: my wedding dressthat I dedicated my post today (Sat) to you.

bernthis said...

this was so beautiful Joanie, I even stumbled it. That is a good thing. I want others to see this.

Also, it was thanks to you and your comment re: my wedding dressthat I dedicated my post today (Sat) to you.

Alix said...

Wow. That's some powerful reading. So poignant and so true.

Thank you for sharing that with us Joanie.

Matty said...

I've seen this before. They really are under appreciated.

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

Wow. So close to my heart.


otin said...

Very nice! It is sometimes forgotten just how young these boys are.

The Retired One said...

Just beautiful!!