Not going to war, for most people, is a good thing. Not all.
What could I possibly mean by that, you may ask with a suspicious and horrified look? Who is this ‘all’ you speak of in the negative?
Surely, war is bad. Yes it is. There are still worse things.
Surely, no one sane would WANT their country to go to war. Absolutely true. No one sane wants their country to go to war. In the same way no one wants to have to shoot a burglar in their house.
Surely, no one sane wants, personally, to go to war. Meh, yes and no. I’m sure there are people who would very cogently and succinctly make the point that I am not sane. For I want to go to war.
Surely I have done my part, having already been to war. Surely I could now stay home, honor satisfied, and enjoy my family. Yes, I have, and yes I could. But the war is not over. In some ways it is just beginning. There are still parts to be played, and if not by me, then by who?
I’m thinking about this because of a good friend of mine, who also wants to go to war. The difference for him is that he has not yet been.
My unit is a good one. We have deployed companies to the war on terror three times and once an entire battalion. Collectively we have killed a whole grundle of bad men who desperately needed killing, and helped a whole bunch of other people who needed help. We have done well, collecting honors and accolades. We have yet to lose a man to the war.
The last deployment, though, was a few years ago and the next has been pushed back so far that many of the men in my unit despaired of ever going back and left, seeking other units who ARE deploying soon, or contracting jobs with the famed “military industrial complex.” (My unit doesn’t typically attract the sort who only join the military for the college benefits though most of us have used them to good effect)
My friend is considering attaching himself to a unit in another state that is deploying but finds itself critically short of men with our expertise. I’m considering going with him. It’s a hard sell for a man in my position, but can I let my friend go alone?
We would all prefer that there were no wars, no oppression, no murder, no crime. MacArthur was right when he said:
The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.
Yet, if our country is at war, we want to go. It’s what drove us to join the military in the first place.