Why soldiers are prepared to sacrifice their lives

Posted

To the Editor:

As Americans, we like to have everything laid out in an obvious and understandable format. We tend to act toward war in the same manner. Americans like to see their nation's confrontations, with other nations, concluded promptly and precisely.

A long, involved conflict causes intolerance among the nation's populace. This impatience and the inconvenience caused by the conflicts themselves can be observed by how the American involvement in the Vietnam War was viewed and discussed by many Americans. The treatment of the military, by many of the nation's citizens, can also attest to the fact that, America loves a winner, as was so eloquently stated by the late General George S. Patton.

Since America's departure from Vietnam was not viewed as an American victory, her soldiers were not treated as heroes and in some cases they were treated as villains. There are many reasons given as to why soldiers make the ultimate sacrifice in war. It has been stated that soldiers die for their patriotic ardor of their country, for each of its citizens individually and lastly to pre-serve their nation’s freedom.

All of these reasons express very lofty and admirable reasons for sacrificing one's own life. So, that being said, these answers seem to all equate to the reason being, they forfeit their lives for their country.

So can we then conclude that soldiers die for a loyal sense of duty? I'm not so sure.  Let's examine this question a little further. There is another interesting reason that is not talked about as much. A soldier may die, in combat, doing what they wanted to do. The soldier died performing the duties they were trained to do and enjoyed doing. Perhaps all the high lofty reasons merely lead to the one reason that is overlooked. The professional soldier is skilled in the administration of violence. This is the primary skill that sets them apart from the civilian. Their motivation stems primarily from a love of the military craft and a desire to so utilize it for the benefit of society. The professional soldier is willing to sacrifice their own comforts on a daily basis, so perhaps the sacrifice of their lives is just an extension of the sacrifices they have been prepared to make throughout their entire lives. Perhaps they feel called to do something that they may not quite understand, but instinctively know it is a part of their destiny. Their calling is so powerful that they are willing to endure pain and depravation regardless of what others may think of them. They fight in battle because they are being attacked by a ruthless enemy who is trying to kill them. Or maybe they fight and die and yes, even kill, because the survival instinct that is inside everyone of us is stronger than our ability to rationalize in a life and death situation. I don't believe that anyone from the Seventh Calvary was having a philosophical dispute or was raising a politically correct assumption with themselves or their comrades at the Little Big Horn or at the Ia Drang. Perhaps soldiers fight and die in order to eliminate all future wars and battles so that no one else will have to make that same sacrifice. Perhaps, at the last moment, they realize that their sacrifice may bring some type of sanity to the world and that their sacrifice may be the last.

John Cervone

North Providence

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