THE WARRIOR’S CODE OF HONOR
As a combat veteran 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 friends. 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. Unbeknownst to
civilians, some things are worth dying for.
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 result.
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 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. You live a different world now. You
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
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.
The hurricane winds of war hurled you as far away as Mars, and you can
never go back home again, not really.
After your terrifying – but thrilling dance with death, your old world
of babies, backyards and ballgames seems deadly dull.
People you knew before the war try to make contact with you. It is
useless. Words fall like bricks between you.
Serving with warriors who died proving their word has made prewar
friends seem too untested to be trusted – thus they are now mere
acquaintances. Earning honor under fire has made you alone, a stranger
in your own home town.
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 spending a mere 24 hours in the broad, sunlit
uplands of battle-proven honor is more satisfying to a man than
spending a whole lifetime in safe, comfortably numb civilian life.
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!
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 talk about it. This is unfortunate
since people who are trying to understand, and make contact with
combat veterans, are kept in the dark.
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
It is my life desire that this tortured work, despite it’s 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.
A Purple Heart Medal recipient who made a promise to remain an unknown
Member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH).
Life Member of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).