The Army and me…

I have talked before (here and here) about Remembrance Day and how sad it makes me that this day does not get more press in Québec. I don’t want to go at it again. But there are things I didn’t yet have a chance to say so I’ll go at it again anyway.

I grew up with a very bad opinion of the military. I was elitist. I knew nobody who was or had been in the army. My family acted like being in the army was shameful when my brother toyed with the idea of joining the Reserve. As a young adult, the one guy I knew who wanted to join the Army seemed less smart than average, did nothing but play video games, lift weights and drink, and thought the Army would be a good place to party. So I thought soldiers were all dumb people who did not know what to do with their life and were looking for a socially acceptable way to simply follow orders and not have to think for themselves.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Different sets of circumstances brought me to spend time on a military base in Comox, BC, where I met amazing military families. Then in my everyday work I was put in contact with a lot of military documentation. I discovered a whole lot of aspects of military life that I had no clue about. I came to realize that sure, there are dumbasses in the Army like everywhere else, but most military men and women join for good reasons. I’m sure these are as varied as the people who join, but many really want to make a difference in their fellow citizen’s life, they want to fight for what they think is right, they want to help poor people around the world, they want to make the Earth a more just place. What is there not to like in those values?

Are there trigger-happy, G.I. Joe types who join to find an acceptable way to kill people? Probably, although I’m sure they do everything in their power to screen those guys out. They don’t want that kind of people, because they just make their work harder. Most members of the military are nice, decent people who, yes, might have a slightly higher tolerance for adrenaline than most of us do, but who are truly passionate about the chances that are given to them, in their career, to truly change the world. One war zone, one torn country, one disaster area at a time. They must have great leadership qualities. They have to be smart. They have to adapt – or die. They are brave, of course, and willing to leave their family behind for months to do something that they believe in.

On Remembrance Day, in the past, I have mostly thought of the average men who ended up in the two World Wars with little training, knowing next to nothing of what they were getting into. I felt for them because they could be my son, they could be Zak – hell, nowadays, they could be me – being sent out to war if things warranted it around the world. But this time I feel like thanking the other kind of soldiers. Those who pick a military life, with all the difficulties that come with it, because somebody has to and they feel that kind of devotion, the need to help their neighbors. I long for peace, but I am not opposed to war in all its forms. I do believe the military serves a purpose. And I am so thankful that I don’t have to do it, because let’s be honest: I don’t have it in me.

They do. And because they do I am at home sipping tea, brutally alive with my children, while some of them or their close friends are being torn apart by Improvised Explosive Devices.

Thank you. Every day, but especially today. Thank you.

One Response to “The Army and me…”

  1. ta vieille mère Says:

    assez bizarrement, je me faisais hier la réflexion qu’on en parlait beaucoup
    j’ai écouté les portraits de plusieurs québécois morts au combat et qu’on honorait pour leur vaillance
    tout change pour le mieux …