The cost of war is incalculable; a nation sacrifices some of their best and brightest young men and women. The numbers can never tally the toll of lost opportunities, of missing sons, and daughters or of generations that will carry a burden for years to come. War is not easy for those that fight and yet their sense of duty to God and country stiffens their resolve.
War is not the heroic images found on the silver screen. There are no special effects to momentarily dazzle the mind’s eye. The carnage, blood, death and destruction are all too real, and will never be forgotten.
All men are created equal, but not the same. War shows no bias or preference, there is risk and death at every level, around every corner. The traumatic stress of combat can transform the mind in ways we do not fully understand. Combat is not an excuse for inhumanity nor is it humanity’s finest hour.
The media today has the capacity to instantly flash images of war before our eyes. The sights and sounds of war in the past were filtered or left on the battlefield but in our lifetime they are the headlines of the day.
Recently the photographs of disrespected dead were news of the day and stirred our raw emotions and feeling of humanity. The same images have inflamed the resentment and emotions of opposition fighters and their supporters. It was the naked truth of war revealed.
This inhumanity is not new it is a peril of war reflective of the collateral damage to the minds of men engage in battle. War does not justify or legitimize such inhumanity it only provides the atmosphere and opportunity.
In the past stories from the battle field slowly passed by word of mouth have equally enraged the brothers and brethren of the battle dead. The equality of man can be found in the reaction to this disrespect and desecration of the dead.
The Taliban and the American soldier of today are no less enraged by disrespect for their dead brothers that then the American patriots of 1775. We need only to look at the battle of Roxbury in September of that year to see history repeating itself.
The enthusiastic, yet untrained troops of General Washington’s army heard recollections of British troops removing the body of an American soldier from his grave. According to the American surgeon James Thatcher in his writings concerning the patriot’s reaction he wrote that “both resentment and grief were manifested”. This is perhaps a polite choice of words by today’s standards but the emotions were no less real.
Nothing stirs the inner emotions of man any more than man’s own inhumanity to mankind. We can condemn it, we can apologize for it and we can expect it, during war. That doesn’t make it acceptable or right but shows another tragedy that is the cost of war. Politicians can condemn their troops for the horrors of war, desecration and disrespect. The politician is not in the atmosphere once described as hell, the atmosphere of war.
War can change a man, alter his thinking and modify his actions. Let us not condone or condemn without some understanding. Let us not lay blame without first accepting some ourselves for it is we that have called for war in our name as a nation. Your soldier is not perfect; he is in a world of horror reacting to the inhumanity around him on a mission for his nation. May god have mercy on his soul and those that send him on his journey.