Guest Opinion: The Warrior’s Code Of Honor
The Warrior’s Code Of Honor
By A Purple Heart Medal recipient
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As a combat veteran wounded in one of America’s wars, I offer to speak for those who cannot. Were the mouths of my fallen battle brothers not stopped with dust, they would testify that life revolves around honor. In war, it is understood that you give your word of honor to do your duty -- that is -- stand and fight instead of running away and deserting your friends. When you keep your word despite desperately desiring to flee the screaming hell all around, you earn honor.
Earning honor under fire changes who you are. The blast furnace of battle burns away impurities encrusting your soul. The white-hot forge of combat hammers you into a hardened, purified warrior willing to die rather than break your word to friends -- your honor. Unbeknownst to civilians, some things are worth dying for.
scary but exciting.
You never feel so alive as when being shot at without result.
You never feel so triumphant as when shooting back -- with result.
You never feel love so pure as that burned into your heart by friends willing to die to keep their word to you. And they do.
The biggest sadness of your life is to see friends falling. The biggest surprise of your life is to survive the war. But although you are still alive on the outside, you are dead inside -- shot thru the heart with nonsensical guilt for living while friends died. The biggest lie of your life torments you that you could have done something more, different, to save them. Their faces are the tombstones in your weeping eyes, their souls shine the true camaraderie you search for the rest of your life but never find.
You come home but a grim ghost of he who so lightheartedly went off to war. But home no longer exists. That world shattered like a mirror the first time you were shot at. You live a different world now. You always will.
Your world is about waking up night
after night silently screaming, back in battle.
Your world is about your best friend bleeding to death in your arms, howling in pain for you to kill him.
Your world is about shooting so many enemies the gun turns red and jams, letting the enemy grab you.
Your world is about struggling hand-to-hand for one more breath of life.
You never speak of your world. Those who have seen combat do not talk about it. Those who talk about it have not seen combat.
People you knew before the war try to make contact. It is useless. Words fall like bricks between you.
The hurricane winds of war have hurled you as far away as Mars, and you can never go back home again, not really.
Your terrifying – but thrilling – dance with death has made your old world of babies, backyards and ballgames seem deadly dull. Serving with warriors who died proving their word has made prewar friends seem too untested to be trusted – thus they are now mere acquaintances.
Doing your duty under fire has made you alone, a stranger in a strange land. The only time you are not alone is when with another combat veteran. Only he understands that keeping your word, your honor, whilst standing face to face with death gives meaning and purpose to life. Only he understands that spending a mere 24 hours in the broad, sunlit uplands of battle-proven honor is more satisfying to a man than spending a whole lifetime groveling in the vast wasteland of civilian life.
Although you walk thru life alone, you are not lonely. You have a constant companion from combat -- Death. It stands close behind, a little to the left. Death whispers in your ear: “Nothing matters outside my touch, and I have not touched you...YET!”
Death never leaves you -- it is your best
friend, your most trusted advisor, your wisest
Death teaches you that every day above ground is a fine day.
Death teaches you to feel fortunate on good days, and bad days...well, they do not exist.
Death teaches you that merely seeing one more sunrise is enough to fill your cup of life to the brim -- pressed down and running over!
Down thru the dusty centuries it has always been thus. It always will be, for what is seared into a man’s soul who stands face to face with death never changes.
This work attempts to describe the world as seen thru the eyes of a combat veteran. It is a world virtually unknown to the public because few veterans talk about it. This is unfortunate since people who are trying to understand, and make contact with combat veterans, are kept in the dark.
I offer these poor, inadequate words – bought not taught – in the hope that they may shed some small light on why combat veterans are like they are.
It is my life desire that this tortured work, despite it’s many defects, may yet still provide some tiny sliver of understanding which may blossom into tolerance – nay, acceptance – of a Warrior’s way of being from doing his duty under fire.
A Purple Heart Medal recipient who made a promise to remain an unknown soldier.