Where to begin? It seems that war is just too big of a topic for Hollywood to handle in 90-110 minutes. Go figure. I know I can’t do it justice in 300-plus pages, either, but it will be more accurate than anything Hollywood can dish up.
I suspect what people want from Hollywood is to take the viewer from innocent civilian to battle-hardened soldier and back again. Do we really want Hollywood to tell us about Charlie’s war in Afghanistan or are we more interested in the conflicts within the soul of the Lion of Panjshir?
Modern war movies seem to be more about telling the story within the story. The other problem with movies is that there is no smell, except of popcorn and spilled fountain drinks. Try to imagine the real smells of war. Then smell the “imagined” ones of fear and death. Do death and fear have a scent? Is it a bad thing if you don’t know the answer to that question?
We are all fascinated with war. It is tribalism at its worst and unveils the darkness within each of our souls. That is why scenes from The Deer Hunter are so hard to watch. We realize that war can take good, decent, and normal people to dark places from which they never can fully return. The movies that touch us the most are those that teach us new ways to think about the common man turned warrior. What makes him take on these unbearable loads? Imagine the burden of command, the weight of a nation upon your very flawed and weak mind and body.
What if, after great personal sacrifice and loss, your president gives away with the stroke of his pen the victory soaked in the blood of your friends and the Marines who believed in you enough to follow your not-always-perfect orders?
Why is war hell? you ask. War is hell because of how the Ruling Class mocks the sacrifices of our warriors. Then there is survivor’s guilt thrown in for good measure.
The best modern war movies do not try to explain war or even human nature. What they do is try to provide a glimpse into the impenetrable psychic conflicts that modern warfare weighs upon the American grunt. One reason that Saving Private Ryan did not really work after the opening scenes is because Tom Hanks was miscast in his role as an infantry officer. He could not and did not give us any sense, other than a shaking hand, of what it is like to order good men to their deaths. The only relief from the burden of command in combat is one’s own death, but in dying what if your replacement is an even more flawed human specimen?
In other words, you have asked me, the Soldier, to go to places and do things for you there that you cannot do for yourself. I have been there and done things as ordered. I am forever changed and not always for the better.
Before spending nearly 30 years in the defense of the greatest nation on Earth’s history, I enjoyed the life of a carefree vagabond with nine lives to give. Now I battle 24/7/11 with tyrants. Tyranny is a beast that cannot be killed but only brought to heel.
Your dilemma is whether or not to accept me as I now am or pretend that you have nothing to do with what I have become. I did not start out this way. I know freedom is not free and that our nation is worth the sacrifice but at what human cost? There is no butcher’s bill too great, physically and/or psychologically, we are unwilling to allow our warriors to pay.
Finally, how do you make sure that America will remain worthy of my efforts to defend her? Will I be mocked in the end by my fellow citizens turning the greatest nation on Earth into something that was not worth fighting, killing, and dying for?
7 thoughts on “Preface: LtCol S.x MacTemplar -Shadow Warrior”
Starting the new year off right, ST!….I’m ready to read more when it’s available to be read.
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This is the most powerful writing I have ever encountered. Thank you, and please continue to post it regularly. Every human being on earth, but especially, every American, should read this. Again and again. Freedom is not free, and those who pay the price for our freedom deserve our undying gratitude and attention.
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We’ve discussed this before and I’ve expressed my concern over our ability to recruit quality military because of the noxious actions of our pols.
We’ve also discussed that civilians express similar concerns. I couldn’t and wouldn’t compare my sacrifices and hard work to yours, but it’s there nonetheless and I endured the responsibility of the 70 hour work weeks, the constant pressure to handle money and invest properly so I can live my “American dream” and lose the worry after retirement. In the business world, there is always a constant need to adjust to the ever-changing fluctuations of the economy but I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of my work (as I know you did too).
Here is what causes me to consider signing up for anger management classes: I am spending an extraordinary amount of time and money side-stepping the roadblocks to fiscal success constructed by people who we, as taxpayers, are indulging. Fortunately, we have a great accountant but he charges $800/hour. A close friend in CA who is an accountant recently informed me that one of her biggest accounts- an owner of a chain of 20 restaurants was handed a bill by Sacramento for a $50k “debt reduction fee” based upon a percentage of his payroll!
To add insult to injury, as I was watching the NCAA play-offs yesterday I couldn’t foxtrotting believe that for the first time since 1949, the Rose Bowl was played in Dallas and not Pasadena because Gavin Newsome is working hard to shut down the entire state. He lost the state appx $50 million with this smooth move.
I hate to sound like a broken record but the American electorate has failed to take responsibility for their govt and it is obvious that Alexander Hamilton was right all along.
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People like you and me are co-dependent. I rely upon you to keep my work environment stable (and thus viable) and you rely upon me to support your military endeavors. Neither business or military can survive without one another.
What a simple truth but one not recognized as it should be.
Happy New Year and we look forward to your return. 🙂
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Did you tweak this some more? It seems to read better than last time I saw it.
Now, dear Simon: tell us! Tell us what war is like from the inside out. Make us see that please. Then we your readers will be fertile ground, ploughed and furrowed, to receive your suggestions on how we can “ make sure America will remain worthy of [your] efforts to defend her”.
“Did you tweak this some more? It seems to read better than last time I saw it.”
Huh? I did manage to calm down and toned down the curse word.
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“Tweak” referred to Simon’s essay, not your comment Liz. (Although your comment reads very well too! )
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