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Friday, September 9, 2011

"We were soldiers..."

Sometime back, I had a conversation at work with a friend who served in the active duty military.  As we went back and forth about various things, I ask him how he was able to do some of very difficult things required of him, things that were as far from his nature as swimming is to a bumblebee's nature.  His response:

"We were soldiers"

That phrase sticks with me every time I think about average people that end up doing extraordinary things.  Sometime the "things" are grand and heroic, such as many of the acts that occurred during 9/11.  Sometimes the things are far less grand, but just as heroic, as in the wife leaving an abusive husband.  Sometimes the things just fall under the "dirty-but-necessary" category of life, you know, the life changes we all have to make at some point and time, things that are not grand, not heroic, but personally and painfully difficult never the less.  

Personally I have not fought in a war, I have not saved anyone from a burning building, I have not had to do anything that risked my own life and safety.  But there have been times when I have felt like a soldier.  I did my duty, followed my orders, did some things that, had I actually contemplated them during the act, I probably wouldn't have done them at all.  I still did them though.

As we parse through all of the news related to the flooding in Northeastern Pennsylvania, I think of all the people who became soldiers at a moment in time...doing what they had to do, even though it seemed personally repugnant and against their real nature.  Like most soldiers, I suspect many will look back at what has happened not believe what they had to do when duty called.  That may be evacuating a life-long home, that may be giving up on precious belongings, that may be we walking though the liquid toxic waste that best describes the over-flowing Susquehanna river.  They did their duty though.

They were soldiers.

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