I have just finished a book that I suggest placing in the Amazon checkout cart and pushing the button today. “On Combat – The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace” by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, ISBN: 978-0-9649205-4-5. My blog takes from this in the last chapter. A portion talks about the last few moments of the movie “Saving Private Ryan”. The author discusses the last dying words of Captain Miller as he lies on the bridge. As Tom Hanks, Captain Miller, looks up at Matt Damon, Private Ryan, he says, “Earn it. Earn this.”
Earn it. What he has said here is, pay forward what I have done here. Pay it to family. Pay it to friends. Live a full life. Regret nothing. Experience new things. Step out of the comfort zone. Grow old and watch grandchildren play in the yard. Enjoy loved ones. Heroes look down upon us from thousands of years of doing what was asked of them and living the fullest life we can is the least we can do. The author puts it better than I, “We can never truly earn what has been purchased at the ultimate price, but we can do our best.”
Warriors. The men and women who say every day what the author said, “…are you looking for a safe place?” “Yeah.” “Then get behind me, because I’m a (insert warrior here: soldier, cop, firefighter, EMT,…), and this is as far as the bastards are going!” How do warriors do this? How do they run into a burning building, towards gunshots, or into a mass of chaos with blood, guts, and twisted metal without regard to themselves. Warrior heart and warrior spirit developed through training. Many hours of training. Training that sucks. Training that is fun. Training that beats us down and shows us who we are. But we owe it to those that have gone before us. We have to earn it.
Please show respect when you are in the presence of a warrior. Please don’t ask about the bad times. They are bad times for a reason that the warrior has to deal with for many moons after the gunshots have ceased. Instead, the best thing you can do is wholeheartedly affirm that they are doing or did the right thing. We asked them to do a job and we are proud of them for doing that job. And we are glad they made it home. Earn it.