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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Not Going to Hell

Combat infantrymen are not going to hell.

They've already been there, and if double jeopardy applies in life, then it surely applies in death.

The combat infantrymen has suffered for our sins. He's faced privation, pain degradation, danger, death,, contempt, and cruelty on a level that no one in civilian life can comprehend. It's not like saying, "I'm a warrior" because you make it through some kind of beer-swilling 'warrior games' on your feet, or because you feel 'called to moral battle' by God.

And our sins?  We didn't care enough to take government into our hands, the way it was supposed to be. We left it in the hands of professional politicians to whom the job became a way of life and a sinecure. We wanted moral ascendancy and cheap goods. We wanted revenge for terrorist attacks, while we went to the mall and found everything we wanted, with no shortages.

And we sent our proxies into Hell.

Can you understand what is burned into the soul of a combat infantryman? No. Nothing in your life can help you understand. You can't identify with him. You can't empathize. You don't feel his pain.

It doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Watch the first fifteen minutes of Saving Private Ryan, and you'll have a sanitized visual taste.

But you can't smell the smells, and you can't appreciate the discomfort - the queasy bowels, the soaked clothing, the literally deafening noise. You can't feel the confusion, and the heartbreaking knowledge that you are, after all, just a cipher. Your death is meaningless, except when added up to see Who Won.

Siegfried Sassoon said it well -

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

So, no, I don't believe that there is any combat infantryman in Hell. No American, no Englishman, No German or Russian or Japanese. A just and loving God will take these men into His strong arms, and shield them forevermore. The doctrine won't matter. Healing the hurt will.

They've paid their dues, and ours, and the last word can go to an unknown poet, a Marine veteran of Guadalcanal -

And when he gets to Heaven
to St. Peter he will tell -
"One more Marine reporting, Sir,
I've served my hitch in Hell."

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