Fight the Fire Dragon, It's a Path to Glory

by James Glaser
May 2, 2002

Have you ever watched when the Veterans of Foreign Wars march down the street with flags waving and rifles on their shoulder? Have you ever watched the honor guard at a military funeral fire their rifles and then listened to the playing of "Taps?" Well those veterans are thinking real hard about that time. Nobody likes to march, everyone is there as it is tradition and funerals are really no fun either. There are many vets who shed a tear each time "taps" are played.

A lot of veterans will tell you that they march, so that those comrades that have fallen are not forgotten. Many veterans go to the funerals as a sign of respect for the veteran that died, but more so as a sign of respect for the service he or she rendered our country.

In times of turmoil, like our country is facing now, many young men and women hear that "call to arms" and join up. The ads on TV, where the young man fights that "fire dragon" and then turns into the dashing Marine in "dress blues" has served the Marine Corp well, getting thousands of recruits. All through history flashy uniforms, shiny brass buttons, and medals with ribbons have attracted young men to the "art" of warfare. In grade school you learn to sing the Marine Corp Hymn and who could ever forget John Wayne in the "Sands of Iwo Jima." From "Dancing with Wolves" to "Brave Heart" and now on to "Lord of the Ring" and "Black Hawk Down" Hollywood is showing us a path we could take to win glory.

Well John Wayne was never a Marine and that Hymn is never played on the field of battle. Those "dress blues" that cost you a couple months pay are at home with your mom when it is time to "ship out" and all of that glory is only Hollywood.

The Marine Corp trains you up and down, in and out, and every which way. Both physically and mentally, you will be as sharp as anyone when you leave Boot Camp. No matter how much training they pour into you, they can never really get you trained for combat. Combat is not glorious or exciting, but it is stimulating and all of your faculties will be strained to the max.

Fighting a war is a adrenaline rush like nothing you can find any place else. It is also extremely horrible, sad, and frightening. Americans and their government never want to talk about those that flip out in war and start wearing necklaces of ears or those nice American boys that cut off heads and put them on stakes in front of their positions. No one likes to talk about prisoners of war being shot nor the killing of women and children. It happens and from my personal experience, it is not the exception, but the rule.

Even with all of my training in the Marine Corp we never had that class on how to put your buddy into a body bag and what happens when you can only find a arm or leg. For that matter what happens when you have extra body parts? Where do to those go? How about when this guy, who has become closer to you than your brother gets his whole stomach blown away, you know he is going to die and all you can hope for is they get a chopper there quick like, so you don't have to look or talk to him. Like what would you say anyway.

Oh yea, when you come home that hero (if it is a popular war) well that only lasts for a short time and then nobody wants to hear it. Combat is such a shock to your mind that for the rest of your life it will come back to you. Maybe it is the way the sun is shining or the smell of diesel fuel. Maybe it is seeing some kid walk just the way those kids were walking when you saw them blown away or you see a guy that looks just like that friend you lost. For sure the sound of "Taps" will bring all of those memories flooding back.

Also you should remember that combat is just like drugs. Some people can do drugs for years and are just fine. Another can try coke just one time and it blows their heart out and they die. Well in combat, some people never get over what happened to them. The Veterans Administration has some heavy duty drugs and even "electric shock treatments" to help some, but there are others that spend the rest of their lives at veterans hospitals all across this nation.

Those recruiting ads never have a health warning on them, but to go into the service for glory is wrong. It is also sad that a country as rich as ours will lure the young men and women from families without a lot of money, with monetary incentives for college if you join up. I strongly believe like our founding fathers, our military is there to defend our borders and that all of the foreign entanglements, hurt the future of our country.

Our country is now led into this war on terrorism by two men who have never seen war. President George Bush was in the National Guard, when he wanted to be and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfled was in the Navy 1954-57. Those who have never seen war have no idea of what they are doing. President Dwight David Eisenhower was Supreme Allied Commander for our war on Germany in WW 2 and he said "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity."

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