Hymn of a Soldier
Posted By: Vector40<email@example.com>
Date: 2 April 2002, 9:21 am
Here is lifting a weight; here is sprinting a gap; here is jumping a stretch, then doing it all stronger, faster, harder. Here is learning how things are and how things have been and how things can be. Here is the science of people, the chemistry of living beings at rest and in strife.
Here is blocking a strike and hitting them back. Here is throwing somebody smaller than you; somebody as large; somebody twice your size. Here is fighting one man, two men, three men with pipes; four men, knives and hands only; six with zip guns; here is an army of thirty with armored vehicles and infantry weapons, there is your objective, five minutes—go.
Here is using a blade that is shorter than your hand and one that is longer. Here is blocking a similar blade, and here is throwing it. Here are sticks, rocks, halberds, bows, longswords; handguns and rifles automated and manual; flamethrowers, rockets, shotguns; cars, tanks, personnel carriers, planes; nets and cycles and nothing at all.
Here is your rifle; here is how it came to be; here is the man who made it and the company that built it and the worker who packaged it and the government who paid for it. Here are the materials, here are the methods, here are the stress tolerances and test specs. Here is breaking it down to keep it clean and here is reassembling it in thirty seconds in the whistling wind and howling snow while enemy mortars explode around you and incoming fire snaps past your head.
Here is shooting; here is shooting; here, still, is how to shoot. Here is the revolver and the automatic, here is the assault rifle and the carbine, here is the SMG and the mounted heavy machine gun that you should never be without. Here is calling in an airstrike and laying out coordinates; here is laying an ambush with no knowledge of the enemy; here is building an assault plan that can destroy not only the bridge whose schematics you have but the one that it may have become since then.
Here is charging a line with twice as many men; here with equal numbers; here with half as many and nothing but bayonets. Here is holding a line against all of those things. Here is keeping in mind air assets; motorized assets; infantry; space assets. Here is delegating authority to people you trust, and here is handling the things that only you can.
Here is fear and here is courage. Here is showing the men under you that you will always lead them, and showing the ones over you that you understand what they order. Here is how to be merciless with compassion. Here is how to know your teammate and how to love him like a brother, and here is killing him if the mission requires it—but never, ever leaving him behind.
Here, beauty, anguish, loathing, joy. Here are the things that make life alive. Awe and wonder; innovation and uniqueness; friendship and sacrifice. Here pain, suffering, here suffering pain because you must. Here is good and here is bad; here is distinguishing the two; and here is enduring the one to attain the other. Here is causing it.
Here, this, all that I have, all that I know, all that is within me that I might pass to you. Take these things, these seeds of knowledge; take these nuggets of years. Plant them within you and tend them well. Nurture them with experience, water them with time, cast upon them the rays of unrequited existence. I ask nothing for this, nothing of you, but that you add a layer or two; and when the time comes, find someone who is worthy. And plant the seeds in him, too.
Because, you see, this is not how to fight.
This is what we fight for.