by CJ Clark, Featured Contributor
I SAW AMERICAN SNIPER. At the end of the 2 hours and 12 minutes, the entire audience remained seated, quiet. We stayed there until the credits were over and the lights came on.
It is a powerful reminder of the sacrifice that our military and first responders make to keep us safe. His first “kill” was a child. The child was carrying a grenade. He waited, hoping the child would not launch it, but watched through his scope as the child ran toward the Americans. He took his shot. The child was given the grenade by a woman, presumably his mother. After he fell, she picked it up and ran. The sniper took another shot.
After four tours in-country, he had enough; he wanted to come home. He worked hard to overcome the thoughts and dreams he brought with him back to his family, and found solace in helping other veterans who lost more than their naiveté. The irony of losing his life to a veteran he was trying to help is overwhelming.
The following day, I got an email with a link to the story about one of the Marines who was publicly vilified because he and his crew urinated on an enemy they had just killed. These Marines were of the same ilk as the American Sniper. Their record – keeping their fellow Marines safe – was stellar. They were young, tired and scared. One of the group suggested they pee on the enemy they just defeated. That was captured on video, and went viral on the internet.
His career was over, as was that of his commanding officer who was not even there. Two years later, he died of an overdose of pills.
I’m going to switch gears now for just a minute, and talk about one of my favorite TV shows – M*A*S*H. We laughed at their gallows humor, their macabre jokes and their pubescent antics. We realized that those antics were a defense mechanism against what they had to see and endure day after day. But it wasn’t real. Or was it? Perhaps we could ask a survivor of the Korean war.
Okay, now I’m coming back to present day; bear with me.
At what point have we decided that war should be pretty? What could possibly lead us to believe that these young men and women, who see such horrible things, and who have to go against everything they were taught about the value of human life when they take another, can come out of the experience unscathed?
Can we, who have not walked in their shoes, really pass judgment on stupid schoolboy whims that don’t fall into our comfortable scope of understanding?
I am struggling right now with our country and trying to figure it all out in a jumbled mind that can’t understand why we don’t see that we are at war, that people want to kill us, and that there is a culture who holds so much hatred for us that they want to wipe us off the face of the earth.
We can’t negotiate our way with those who hate us. We can’t make them like us; they are teaching hatred of us to their children. It is becoming part of their DNA, as valuing human life is part of ours. We are at an impasse and I see two alternatives.
We could continue the way we are going, and tie the hands of our military or we can tell them “Finish this.” Understand that our military are highly-educated scholars and understand the strategy and tactics of war. They have studied the psychology of war over thousands of years, and are teaching what they have learned to members of the military. They know how to do this.
But they cannot do it when every decision is second-guessed by those who do not have the knowledge and experience to provide helpful input. They cannot do it when they are given a narrow range of options to use.
Did we really think that people like Chris Kyle and his fellow military members were in the Middle East and not killing our enemies? Are we going to allow the sacrifice of those who won battles in the Middle East to be for naught, as our enemies take back towns we held? We could go back and forth here for years and years and years.
Or we could do what we have to do and finish it. We have the might. Do we have the courage?