03 March, 2007

Too Fond of War

It is well that war is so terrible — otherwise we should grow too fond of it.

-General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Fredericksburg

That quote is frequently used to bash warfighters for being of questionable morality or "just this side of polite company," but that's a distortion of an insightful statement.

There are many reasons why a soldier can look back at time spent on the battlefield with both horror and nostalgia. If you combined this description with an awareness of the incredible bonds formed between combat brothers, I think you'd be a lot closer to the truth of that famous quote:
After the IED explodes, or the RPG whistles overhead, or the shot cracks past, there's a moment of panic as you process the fact that you are still alive- that this time, they missed you. After that seconds hesitation, the rush hits.

...For me, the rush is mostly exhilaration. It's a feeling of invulnerability. I've heard the unforgettable sound of an RPG somewhere very, very near my little sector of space, and stood a little taller yelling "Missed me, you bastards!" as I spin the turret and look for the shooter.

Read it all, and the comments, too.