>There are times when commentary only interferes with the message. This is one of those times.
> THE WARRIOR’S CODE OF HONOR
> As a combat veteran wounded in one of America’s wars, I offer to speak for
> those who cannot. Were the mouths of my fallen front-line friends not
> stopped with dust, they would testify that life revolves around honor.
> In war, it is understood that you give your word of honor to do your duty –
> that is – stand and fight instead of running away and deserting your
> When you keep your word despite desperately desiring to flee the screaming
> hell all around, you earn honor.
> Earning honor under fire changes who you are.
> The blast furnace of battle burns away impurities encrusting
> your soul.
> The white-hot forge of combat hammers you into a hardened,
> purified warrior willing to die rather than break your word to friends –
> your honor.
> Combat is scary but exciting.
> You never feel so alive as when being shot at without result
> You never feel so triumphant as when shooting back – with
> You never feel love so pure as that burned into your heart by
> friends willing to die to keep their word to you.
> And they do.
> The biggest sadness of your life is to see friends falling.
> The biggest surprise of your life is to survive the war.
> Although still alive on the outside, you are dead inside – shot thru the
> heart with nonsensical guilt for living while friends died.
> The biggest lie of your life torments you that you could have done something
> more, different, to save them.
> Their faces are the tombstones in your weeping eyes, their souls shine the
> true camaraderie you search for the rest of your life but never find.
> You live a different world now. You always will.
> Your world is about waking up night after night silently
> screaming, back in battle.
> Your world is about your best friend bleeding to death in your
> arms, howling in pain for you to kill him.
> Your world is about shooting so many enemies the gun turns red
> and jams, letting the enemy grab you.
> Your world is about struggling hand-to-hand for one more breath
> of life.
> You never speak of your world.
> Those who have seen combat do not talk about it.
> Those who talk about it have not seen combat.
> You come home but a grim ghost of he who so lightheartedly went off to war.
> But home no longer exists
> That world shattered like a mirror the first time you were shot at.
> The splintering glass of everything you knew fell at your feet, revealing
> what was standing behind it – grinning death – and you are face to face,
> nose to nose with it!
> The shock was so great that the boy you were died of fright.
> He was replaced by a stranger who slipped into your body, a MAN from the
> Warrior’s World.
> In that savage place, you give your word of honor to dance with death
> instead of run away from it.
> This suicidal waltz is known as: “doing your duty.”
> You did your duty, survived the dance, and returned home. But not all of you
> came back to the civilian world.
> Your heart and mind are still in the Warrior’s World, far beyond the Sun.
> They will always be in the Warrior’s World. They will never leave, they are
> buried there.
> In that hallowed home of honor, life is about keeping your word.
> People in the civilian world, however, have no idea that life is about
> keeping your word.
> They think life is about ballgames, backyards, barbecues, babies and
> The distance between the two worlds is as far as Mars from Earth.
> This is why, when you come home, you fell like an outsider, a visitor from
> another planet.
> You are.
> Friends try to bridge the gaping gap.
> It is useless. They may as well look up at the sky and try to talk to a
> Martian as talk to you. Words fall like bricks between you.
> Serving with Warriors who died proving their word has made prewar friends
> seem too un-tested to be trusted – thus they are now mere acquaintances.
> The hard truth is that earning honor under fire makes you a stranger in your
> own home town, an alien visitor from a different world, alone in a crowd.
> The only time you are not alone is when with another combat veteran.
> Only he understands that keeping your word, your honor, whilst
> standing face to face with death gives meaning and purpose to life.
> Only he understands that your terrifying – but thrilling – dance
> with death has made your old world of backyards, barbecues and ballgames
> seem deadly dull.
> Only he understands that your way of being due to combat damaged
> emotions is not the un-usual, but the usual, and you are OK.
> A common consequence of combat is adrenaline addiction.
> Many combat veterans – including this writer – feel that war was the high
> point of our lives, and emotionally, life has been downhill ever since.
> This is because we came home adrenaline junkies. We got that way doing our
> duty in combat situations such as:
> crouching in a foxhole waiting for attacking enemy soldiers to
> get close enough for you to start shooting;
> hugging the ground, waiting for the signal to leap up and attack
> the enemy;
> sneaking along on a combat patrol out in no man’s land, seeking
> a gunfight;
> suddenly realizing that you are walking in the middle of a mine
> Circumstances like these skyrocket your feelings of aliveness far, far above
> and beyond anything you experienced in civilian life:
> never have you felt so terrified – yet so thrilled;
> never have you seen sky so blue, grass so green, breathed air so
> sweet, etc.; because dancing with death makes you feel stratospheric – nay –
> intergalactic aliveness.
> Then you come home, where the addictive, euphoric rush of
> aliveness/adrenaline hardly ever happens – naturally, that is.
> Then what often occurs? “Quick, pass me the motorcycle” (and /or fast car,
> drag race, speedboat, airplane, parachute, big game hunt, extreme sport,
> fist fight, gun fight, etc.)
> Another reason Warriors may find the rush of adrenaline attractive is
> because it lets them feel something rather than nothing. The dirty little
> secret no one talks about is that many combat veterans come home unable to
> feel their feelings. It works like this.
> In battle, it is understood that you give your word of honor to
> not let your fear stop you from doing your duty. To keep your word, you must
> numb up/shut down your fear.
> But the numb-up/shut-down mechanism does not work like a tight,
> narrow rifle shot; it works like a broad, spreading shot gun blast. Thus
> when you numb up your fear, you numb up virtually all your other feelings as
> The more combat, the more fear you must “not feel.” You may
> become so numbed up/shut down inside that you cannot feel much of anything.
> You become what is know as “battle-hardened,” meaning that you can feel hard
> feelings like hate and anger, but not soft, tender feelings (which is bad
> news for loved ones).
> The reason that the rush of adrenaline, alcohol, drugs,
> dangerous life style, etc. is so attractive is because you get to feel
> something, which is a step up from the awful deadness of feeling nothing.
> Although you walk thru life alone, you are not lonely.
> You have a constant companion from combat – Death.
> It stands close behind, a little to the left.
> Death whispers in your ear; “Nothing matters outside my touch, and I have
> not touched you…YET!”
> Death never leaves you – it is your best friend, your most trusted advisor,
> your wisest teacher.
> Death teaches you that every day above ground is a fine day.
> Death teaches you to feel fortunate on good days, and bad days…well, they do
> not exist.
> Death teaches you that merely seeing one more sunrise is enough to fill your
> cup of life to the
> brim – pressed down and running over!
> Death teaches you that you can postpone its touch by earning serenity.
> Serenity is earned by a lot of prayer and acceptance.
> Acceptance is taking one step out of denial and accepting/allowing your
> repressed, painful combat memories to be re-lived/suffered thru/shared with
> other combat vets – and thus de-fused.
> Each time you accomplish this dreaded act of courage/desperation:
> the pain gets less;
> more tormenting combat demons hiding in the darkness of your gut
> are thrown out into the
> healing sunlight of awareness, thereby disappearing them;
> the less bedeviling combat demons, the more serenity earned.
> Serenity is, regretfully, rather an indistinct quality, but it manifests as
> an immense feeling of fulfillment/satisfaction:
> from having proven your honor under fire;
> from having demonstrated to be a fact that you did your duty no
> matter what;
> and from being grateful to Higher Power/your Creator for sparing
> It is an iron law of nature that such serenity lengthens life span to the
> Down thru the dusty centuries it has always been thus.
> It always will be, for what is seared into a man’s soul who stands face to
> face with death never changes.
> WRITER’S NOTE (1)
> This work attempts to describe the world as seen thru the eyes of a combat
> veteran. It is a world virtually unknown to the public because few veterans
> can talk about it.
> This is unfortunate since people who are trying to understand,
> and make meaningful contact with combat veterans, are kept in the dark.
> How do you establish a rapport with a combat veteran? It is very
> simple. Demonstrate to him out in the open in front of God and everybody
> that you too have a Code of Honor – that is, you also keep your work – no
> matter what!
> Do it and you will forge a bond between you.
> Do it not and you will not.
> End of story. Case closed.
> I offer these poor, inadequate words – bought not taught – in the hope that
> they may shed some small light on why combat veterans are like they are, and
> how they can fix it.
> It is my life desire that this tortured work, despite its many defects, may
> yet still provide some tiny sliver of understanding which may blossom into
> tolerance – nay, acceptance – of a Warrior’s perhaps unconventional way of
> being due to combat-damaged emotions from doing his duty under fire.
> Signed, a Purple Heart Medal recipient
> who wishes to remain anonymous.
> Dedicated to absent friends in unmarked graves.
> Respectfully written and submitted by;
> Pete Oakander [email@example.com]
> Commander of Chief Joseph Chapter 509 of the Military Order of the Purple
> Heart – Boise, Idaho
> Charter Member of American Legion Post 39 – Middleton, Idaho
> Yours in Patriotism