A soldier isn’t uniform. A soldier isn’t combat boots and camouflage. A soldier isn’t straight stance and pointed chin.
A soldier is power.
A soldier is powerful enough to save a dying nation. He is powerful enough to restore peace in the midst of war. He is powerful enough to just decide to leave home, to walk through the door with his mother crying on her knees on the kitchen floor. He is powerful enough to justify leaving, destroying, killing, with a country’s flag. This is a god-like power. This is a power closer to divinity than humanity. A solider is statue—idol of our constant worship. A soldier is rock-solid, taller than man. A soldier becomes a figure of strength, a model of bravery, a beacon of hope for a nation in grief. We praise them. We stop them as they sip their coffee with their families and thank them for their service, tell their mothers they have raised brave sons. We buy them drinks. We give them cigarettes, let them bum a light. A soldier is our best friend, our favorite hero.
A solider loves his flag more than he loves Jesus. A soldier replaces hymns with cadence, dancing in the spirit with marching in cadence. A solider replaces his Holy Scripture with grenades, rifles, bullets. A soldier forgets where he came from. A solider is a changed man. But a soldier was something before he was a soldier, despite what he is told. A soldier was once a boy before he was a soldier. A soldier was once a brother.
A soldier does everything right. A soldier knows how to make dramatic exits. A soldier knows how make a home hold its breath. A soldier knows how to write a letter that will leave everyone hanging on his every word. A soldier knows how easy it is to trade in a lifetime of past mistakes for a future as a hero. A soldier knows that all it takes is a signature.
But no matter how many stories he hears, no matter how much training they give him, a soldier is never prepared for the reality of war.
A soldier forgets that in gaining power, he has made the ultimate sacrifice. A soldier quickly forgets what his purpose was. A soldier quickly remembers what his training was for. A soldier walks on the line between right and wrong. He blurs the line in the sand with his own combat boots and walks along the smudges. Morals hold no bearings for a soldier, only orders exist. Life holds no value if dressed in the wrong fatigues. His destiny is a constant trek between the muck of war and peace, of life and death, reaching nowhere.
A soldier thinks of his weeping mother—of how she cries for him like every mother cries for her son—as he points his weapon toward enemy lines. His mind goes blank as he pulls the trigger.
Soldiers go from men drunk with power to men who writhe in nightmares of war.
But the world depends on these men. The world depends on their strength and their courage to protect and restore peace. So we give them power to justify our reliance. We put them on pedestals to atone for laying the weight of the world on their shoulders.
A soldier comes back from war. A soldier kisses his wife and hugs his kids. A soldier cries on his mother’s shoulders. A soldier breathes a sigh of relief to find himself in the one place he was trying to escape—home.
Created: Jul 19, 2010Document Media