Poetry

Average Military Man



Average Military Man

The average age of the military man is 19 years. 
He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal
circumstances is considered by society as half man, half
boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a
beer, but old enough to die for his country. He never really
cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than
wash his father's; but he has never collected unemployment
either. He's a recent High School graduate; he was probably
an average student, pursued some form of sport activities,
drives a ten year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend
that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be
waiting when he returns from half a world away. He listens
to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and
155mm Howitzers. He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when
he was at home because he is working or fighting from before
dawn to well after dusk. He has trouble spelling, thus
letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a
rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the
dark.He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun
or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he
must. He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid
like a professional. He can march until he is told to stop
or stop until he is told to march. He obeys orders instantly
and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or
individual dignity. He is self-sufficient. He has two sets
of fatigues: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his
canteens full and his feet dry. He sometimes forgets to
brush his teeth, but never to clean his rifle. He can cook
his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts.
If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you
are hungry, his food. He'll even split his ammunition with
you in the midst of battle when you run low. He has learned
to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his
hands. He can save your life - or take it, because that is
his job. He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw
half the pay and still find ironic humor in it all. He has
seen more suffering and death then he should have in his
short lifetime. 
He has stood atop mountains of dead bodies, and helped to
create them. He has wept in public and in private, for
friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed. He feels
every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body
while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire
to 'square-away' those around him who haven't bothered to
stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking. In an odd
twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their
right to be disrespectful. Just as did his Father,
Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price
for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy. He is
the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free
for over 200 years. He has asked nothing in return, except
our friendship and understanding. Remember him, always, for
he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood. 

Arielle Albert