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Old 11-13-2003, 06:00 AM
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Unhappy War - Warriors or Not

In my experience with veterans from all branches over the years, the subject inevitably comes up, "So, what did you do during Nam?" Most often this kind of a question issues from they who were, or still are, warriors themselves... the ones who drew and, sometimes, gave their blood... the ones who saw their buddies die in often horrible, horrible ways... in service to their unit and to our nation.

My usual reply is to say, "I did what they told me to do. I was a mechanic.", normally followed with, "I wish I coulda been there with you guys." To which most warriors will say, with varying degrees of intensity or profanity, "You are f--king crazy! NOBODY should have WANTED to be with us!", or, "I don't know why you people always say that! You are NUTS!", or, "In the Rear with the Gear is every bit as good as dying."

I will tell you why we always say that... it is because YOU were under fire, in grave danger, suffering in any one or more of a thousand ways day and night ... and maybe, just maybe if I HAD been allowed to fight, then you might not have been injured, or one of YOUR buddies might have come home. I would have taken your place, and perhaps that IS crazy thinking, but it is MY thinking and MY reason for why I feel this way. It is just as incomprehensible to you, as your service is to me. It is the reasoning of an old man, with one main regret.

We wanted to do more... not to kill more or die more or be maimed more, in some kind of idiotic masochistic way, but just to have had the honor of serving where and how you served.

We are not ashamed in any way of our service, and we know it helped you and yours, somehow, some way. So, this feeling does not come from any false sense of bravado. It comes from the simple emotion of caring or even of guilt, and from when we sent you to fight... that probably unknown-to-you sense of pride and loss EVERY time we had to remain behind.

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