Sunday, December 4, 2011

Barcelona: Day 103 : Soldiers .

The other day I watched a movie called Jarhead starring Jake Gyllenhaal. While many war movies seem to paint a picture of grandeur and nationalism and pride, this one was different. This one seemed to give a bit of a look into the potential truths behind being a soldier. There was the actual difficulty by the drill sergeants and the staff sergeants. Most of all though, it seemed to paint an accurate picture of war.

In terms of action, the movie had a lot less than I was anticipating. There were only a few scenes, and the war seemed to start and end before you even knew it. This was a recreation of Operation Desert Storm; and the scout sniper team in the movie were there from the very beginning. The thing is, they didn't really do much of anything. As the number of troops increased exponentially from 5,000 to an eventual half million, the days progressed with a longevity like no other. It seemed that the time there would never end, and everyone was bored out of their mind. People even sometimes began to go insane.

Then there was the people back home. Thinking about your girlfriend, or your wife, and wondering if they had given up on you. The realizations that occurred that proved that they did, and how alone a soldier could feel after that. I would think that for some, their strongest amount of will power stems from the fact that they have a family or a loved one to come home to. For what do you have to look forward to after war if you have no one at home. The men there have become your brothers in arms, and your brothers in life. For others, perhaps the fact that they have nothing to lose inspires them to stay focused and sharp, and gives them the courage to press on through the hardest of challenges. Needless to say, it was interesting to see the military portrayed from this kind of view.

At the end of the movie, it's revealed that the soldier Jake plays never even fired his weapon once throughout the whole war. They were there for forever, and not once did it happen. How strange, to do all of that training, all of the preparation, and simply not have to use it.

In the beginning of the film, one officer asks Swofford (Gyllenhaal's character) what he is doing here. His response was "Sir, I got lost on the way to college, sir." How many people "get lost" on the way to college? While it is meant to be, in my eyes, a bit of a comical response, it's disheartening to think that for some the military is the only chance at a steady job that they will ever have. I once talked with a guy who was in the Air National Guard. He explained that the Guard is one of the best decisions he's ever made. The reason? All the guys that are there want to be there. All of them want to be a part of that. For those in active duty, you never know. You don't know their reasons for being there or if they even want to be. The identity of a man is stripped upon entering the service. They may have dog tags and a name on the uniform, but they are a pawn on an extremely large chess board of the world, easily moved wherever they need to be, and sacrificed when necessary.

It's not easy to think about troop casualty numbers. Hundreds dead here, and thousands dead on this day, and still more dead here. Maybe we numb to the numbers. But that's scary.

I'll one day be a part of this system, within the next few years, even. Whether I have people at home waiting for me or not, whether I am scared shitless or have somehow found a way to muster up some courage, and whether I actually end up overseas or not, I want to be there. And that is one dream, that I will never let fade.

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