Today’s poem from the past (Day 1491) goes about soldiers that hold the line against all odds. It is something that interest me, more specific: the mindset of a soldier willing to die. The question if you would give your life, or put it in danger for an other human being, that is not a question you can answer on forehand I think. You can say no, or yes, but I think you can only find out what you do after the fact.
They left me
in the cold
for all these months
and I still did
the only thing
that I can
holding the line
till they take me
I’ve been in Cambodia, working for the UN as a Dutch Marine. We were some kind of police there and as such I never been in a fire fight. We have been in situations that could have escalated into something more serious. One time, after dinner, there was suddenly a lot of shooting just outside our compound. We where used to hear shooting, but most of the time that is because people are hunting, this was something else. Because you don’t know what is going on we all rushed to our posts, like we practiced over and over. I thinks that I had a moment of clarity, or it just me looking back, but I remember that I looked around while I was standing behind my machine gun, hand grenades and phosphorus launchers spread out on the sandbags in front of me, looking at my sector.
It is not so mush that they drill this into you, it’s the adrenaline that takes over. I was ready to fight, but glad we didn’t need to. There was a good reason that we where there as a police force. For years, most of the man where member of one of the countless little armies, anarchy was everywhere and only the strongest would survive. We already collected thousands of weapons but most people still had a weapon and used it to settle scores. This is what happened that day, “normally” someone shoots an other but this time it escalated in a firefight that lasted a while.
The adrenaline and training will kick in and let you do thing you normally wouldn’t do. You might give your life in a situation like that, but it is not a choice. As I said, I was never in a firefight, but if you are, the adrenaline will slowly go away and I think that in a situation like that, when you sobered up, that you can find out if you are willing to die for your buddies. Because of our shared experiences, we would slowly see each other as family. In civilian life you can work for years and years with the same people without ever getting a bond like that. In the military you can form this bond quickly because of the unique circumstances. If you never been in the military you will have a hard time imagining it, but would you jump between your mother and an attacker to protect her? You probably would, if you could.