The great General George S. Patton once said that “War is hell.” (Patton, 1970). War does not comprise of men who just get together over the weekend and shoot at turkeys. They do not just talk about the good old days. The general stated the only truth about war. Hell is the perfect description.
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People can only know of wars through news broadcasts. The details can only be vividly viewed through movies. There are also times when well produced films about war even fail to present the real drama behind the unsung heroes of war. It is sometimes just a soft representation of emotions that could be barely described. But who can really say what it feels like to be in the middle of it all, especially during the developments in the Middle East? However, not all films are a far cry of reality. Saving Private Ryan is perhaps the only movie that could give the most realistic view of war. It relayed the devastation ever inclined to such scenarios. (Saving Private Ryan, 1998).
During the war, soldiers constantly hear the sound of artillery shells bombarding their ear drums. They also hear 223 millimeter rounds grazing their helmets. They also hear the sound of bullets penetrating helmets as the soldiers advance and attack the enemy with full force. The enemy is their only target as they fight for two things: their country and their lives.
Soldiers cannot stop to have a lunch break during a battle. They can ask for a breather when they are tired. But they already know that they will never get it, not even when they begged for it. Soldiers do not get to have bathroom breaks even when nature is already screaming for a minute. They might wish to take a moment to stretch their backs on a soft mattress and take a nap, but the squad must gather ahead to plan and see through their next mission. Sleep and hot meals are luxuries that soldiers barely get during the war. Toilet paper, what almost every American take advantage of, is scarce and inaccessible.
Although war can be a shattering experience, a soldier volunteered his life and should be committed to his mission. Soldiers who can no longer serve their commitment to the squad and mission are discharged, but only under certain circumstances. Otherwise, he will take his rifle and walk through the next mission.
During war, soldiers become to respect and trust their fellow soldiers in their squad. They rely on each other for strength, as they are reminded everyday of why they are on the battle field. Their body and minds may be covered with bruises, flesh wounds and gunpowder. But the strength they rear from these people is their very source of courage to face all fears. Every day on the field, they are trying to face their fear of death.
True, there are a lot of people who say that death is a passing transition to another sort of life and should not be too much of a concern. They say Death should not be feared. Little did listeners know that the very same men who believe in their absence of fear of death are those who are living comfortably at home. They lounge on their Lazy Boys watching movies about war. The might even have a cold can of bear in one hand and a bucket of hot spicy chicken on the other.
These men are those who do not even have the right to speak of war. They do not live and breathe war. They do not see friends go down. They do not hear the bullets flying from every angle. They cannot smell the blood of both enemy and comrade. They cannot taste the earth that they call beds. They cannot feel the blinding burn of pain.
I was once in a helicopter during a machine gun attack during a rescue. It had 52 bullet holes throughout its body. It had bloodstains on the floor from my comrades who died that day. They never knew what happened. They did not have a chance. It would have been pointless if they even knew. No, was is not the kind of adventure that one would describe as fun and exciting. It would scare any human being to be part of it all. That makes soldiers heroes for even taking the steps in battle on behalf of their country.
The author of “I Ain’t Gonna Study War No More”, Phillip Babich, gave a story about a soldier’s change of heart. (Salon.com, April 2003). Sergeant Kevin Benderman is a 10-year veteran in the United States Army, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia. In January, his battalion was ordered to prepare for deployment to the country of Iraq. Since then, the Sergeant felt that he could not, in good conscience, go back to fight any war. He was deployed once before in Iraq in May 2003, and he claimed that it has permanently left a bad taste in his mouth. He does not want to be part of any war in the future.
Recently, he filed for the conscientious objector status, claiming that he was morally against wars and declared that he could no longer participate on the battlefield. He has been telling his story to radio stations and internet sites to promote awareness to his situation. He was scheduled to meet with the division chaplain and a psychiatrist to complete his documents.
Unfortunately, due to a difficulty in schedules, it was not completed before the date of deployment. Sgt. Benderman chose to disobey direct orders to deploy to face a military court marshal. Currently, he is at Fort Stewart waiting for his day in court. Only then can he take his case regarding his request for conscientious objector status to the military tribunal.
The Sergeant’s case is an interesting situation. The United States of America has a voluntary military service. With that, one should think: where do we draw the line? When can a soldier be released from his voluntary enlistment when he fully realized that war was not what he really wanted or even expected. Since he is a volunteer, will he be immediately declined when requested to have his voluntary action back?
On the other hand, if such would be the case, that the United States Government would simply allow volunteers to leave the military at any time they wish to, would that cause a far greater chaos than trying to survive the war? The number of soldiers would diminish to a small number that it might become inefficient to even try to fight with what was left.
With that, I believe that every soldier has the right to be moved to a non fighting position within the military, given that he is incapacitated to be on the field, until his contract has expired. I do agree that a person does not have to fight during the war if he feels that he cannot fulfill such without having to compromise his beliefs. He has to have it all within himself that being in the middle of a war zone is something he would want. Being half hearted can only cause greater death count, including his squad, fellow Americans, and himself. In the case of Sgt. Benderman, he should be removed from service and placed in a non-combat position until his enlistment is over. Until then, the Sergeant can be of better use to the military by perhaps being a good cook. The military could definitely use one.
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