Thursday, July 30, 2009

Warriors, Where They May Be

Some periods in my life seem to have been very simple and extremely well defined. That isn't to say that those periods were always positive or even healthy, but there is something to be said for clarity and a sense of direction.

One such time in my life was during some of my initial military training. Life was difficult by design and the situations were stressful and trying. However, I think people who stop simply being a soldier and somehow have everything within them morphed into a warrior remember the exact moment when they changed.

For me it was the moment when marching in accordance with approved military regulations was no longer important. Knowing who and when to salute, the appearance of my uniform and even when, where and how I would eat again all became peripheral details that neither greatly mattered nor were irresponsibly ignored. The lone thing that mattered was life. Surviving and being able to preserve my life and the life of those with whom I was with and the taking of the life of anyone or anything that seemed to challenge the first objective.

While that admittedly sounds gruesome and perhaps a bit barbaric, the simple truth is that without the warriors in this world, life wouldn't be as grand...or perhaps even possible for most people. Warriors on the battlefield transform history through courage, honor, bravery and brotherhood...yes, often through the taking of life. Sometimes warriors live long enough to wage battles in other areas of life. From service in those battles Warriors rarely receive medals and often they don't even receive recognition. Those things are fine for the Warrior because only soldiers care about the applause of men and the kind of glamour one can hang on the wall. The warriors of this world simply care that they gave their all for an honorable cause and that they were, collectively if not individually, victorious.

Some times in this world Warriors aren't found on the traditional battlefield. Sometimes they aren't even called Warriors. Maybe we call them Mom, Dad, Single Mother, Coach, Neighbor, Friend, Husband, Wife, Teacher, Physician, Minister, etc.
Warriors, when not on the traditional fields of battle are the people who refuse to "half-ass" life. They refuse to be defined by what are at times, really horrible circumstances. They may get down but they never quit...the Warrior's Heart beating within them demands that they die before they quit, give-up, surrender or retreat from the battle of life.

Warriors, regardless of where they are found should, at the very least, be honored. I hope we can all find a Warrior in our lives to honor. If you are the Warrior in your life...I honor you.

I close with quotes from two great Warriors who fought on opposing sides in The War of Northern Aggression (Civil War). Their statements represent the two sides present in the lives and hearts of every warrior who has experienced death all too intimately and who have also experienced what it means to really, fully live.

"The scene now presented was unspeakably grand. The resolute and impetuous charge, the rush of our heavy columns sweeping out from the shadow and gloom of the forest into the open fields flooded with sunlight, the glitter of arms, the onward dash of artillery and mounted men, the retreat of the foe, the shouts of the hosts of our army, the dust, the smoke, the noise of fire-arms—of whistling balls and grape-shot and of bursting shell—made up a battle scene of unsurpassed grandeur."

—Confederate Brig. Gen. Bushrod Johnson
September 20th, 1863 regarding The Battle of Chickamauga

"But out of that silence rose new sounds more appalling still; a strange ventriloquism, of which you could not locate the source, a smothered moan, as if a thousand discords were flowing together into a key-note weird, unearthly, terrible to hear and bear, yet startling with its nearness; the writhing concord broken by cries for help, some begging for a drop of water, some calling on God for pity; and some on friendly hands to finish what the enemy had so horribly begun; some with delirious, dreamy voices murmuring loved names, as if the dearest were bending over them; and underneath, all the time, the deep bass note from closed lips too hopeless, or too heroic to articulate their agony...It seemed best to bestow myself between two dead men among the many left there by earlier assaults, and to draw another crosswise for a pillow out of the trampled, blood-soaked sod, pulling the flap of his coat over my face to fend off the chilling winds, and still more chilling, the deep, many voiced moan that overspread the field."

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain: 20th Maine,At the end of the first day's fighting at Fredericksburg

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