Every time I think about heroism, and what it means I think of one Bible verse.
Isaiah 6:8 Which reads, "I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Who will I send? Who will go for us? And I said, Here I am Lord, Send me!"
When I think of this verse there are two sides of me that are locked in an epic conflict for control of my brain and by default my soul. There is the side of me that knows the dangers of war and the futility of it all. Then there is the side of me that cannot help but yearn for the test that is war. I am enthralled with the idea of proving myself. Not to anyone in particular, just to myself. I think that at least one side of me is crazy, and to any normal thinking person which side is nuts is fairly obvious. To me the answer as to which side is loco is a bit more convoluted.
So I pose the question, what is a hero? Why am I thinking about such goofy questions? Well I just went to see Hancock this evening. In the movie (everyone probably already knows this) Will Smith plays a homeless drunk with superpowers. The movie follows him as he grows from a drunk who does more harm than good into a real superhero that saves the day over and over. I actually wouldn't recommend the movie. The director could have done a whole lot more with the story and characters, but it seemed like he knew the movie would be a hit since Will Smith was in it, so he didn't feel the need to put a whole lot of work into it.
But back to the question, What the hell is a hero? Is it someone who can do things no one else can do? Or is it someone who is willing to do the things that no one else is willing to do? Now these questions are coming to me as I sit in my bedroom typing away and thinking about my impending deployment to Afghanistan which currently is heating up to the point that some soldiers out there are wishing they were there instead of in Iraq. (Soldiers are a very strange lot) But click HERE if you want to read about it.
I have been a soldier in one capacity or another since I was 19 years old, I am 30 now. The Army and I are the longest continuous relationship I've ever had, and ever since I was a kid I have dreamed, fantasized really, about achieving glory in battle. Proving myself in a way that most men will never be able to prove themselves. Showing myself that when it comes right down to it and the shit has hit the fan and the chips are down and....insert random cliche here, I was able to cowboy up, grab my balls and do what I had to do. Many of you won't understand this next line but it is more for my benefit than yours.
WHEN I COME HOME I WANT TO CLANG WHEN I WALK!!!!
Is it wrong? Am I sick in the head for having such foolish dreams? I know that my ideas on this are childish and immature and are ignoring the basic reality of the situation that I am about to find myself in. However, no matter how hard I try, and how diligently I try to talk myself out of thinking this way, I just can't shake the idea. I have an ever changing movie running in my head. A movie where I am the hero and I keep getting myself into one amazing situation after another, and always through my own cunning, bravery and heroic actions I keep coming through. Unfortunately, this is the real world, where the good guy doesn't always win, and the hero doesn't always get the girl and live happily ever after.
In this world heros die. In this world heros lose limbs. In this world heros are forgotten by their governments. In this world heros are expendable.
I know all of this. I see it everyday in the news on how the VA sucks, and soldiers and marines and airmen, and sailors are getting completely fucked up by the war whether it be in the body or in the mind. Then when they get home they find their medical care to be, and this is putting it mildly, just a little bit below par. I see the pictures of all those young men and women who died. I see all the movies and pictures about the ones who came back minus an arm or a leg. I read all the stories about the ones who came back all fucked up in the head, and ended up dining on a bullet just to make the pain stop. Regardless of all of that, these thoughts still run in my head.
I sincerely don't know whether I should want them to go away or not. Is it pure naivete, or is it my noble heart (doubt it), or is it just a piece of me that wants to be able to quietly look down on those who weren't there with me, who weren't willing to stand up and fight as I had? Could it be my own vanity that is causing me these thoughts? That is the most logical argument so far.
Now I am headed to Afghanistan on August 28, 2008 and will be there for almost a year. I think that at one point or another the time will come where I will go from being a naive dreamer to an experienced warrior and then I will be able to use that experience to sort this little conundrum out. I just hope and pray that finding the answers to these questions does not cost me a limb, my sanity, or my life...
Of course that might all be complete bullshit. Maybe one of these days I'll tell you why I think I may have been chasing a ghost for the last 27 years.