He told me that once, in the war, he'd come upon a German soldier in the grass with his insides falling out; he was just lying there in agony. The soldier had looked up at Sergeant Leonard, and even though they didn't speak the same language, they understood each other with just a look. The German lying on the ground; the American standing over him. He put a bullet in the soldier's head. He didn't do it with anger, as an enemy, but as a fellow man, one soldier helping another.
The point I wish to make is that those things cause the soldier to remember that the people at home are behind him. You do not know how much that is going to mean to us who are going abroad. You do not know how much that means to any soldier who is over there carrying the flag for his country. That is the point which should be uppermost in the minds of those who are working for the soldier.
John J. Pershing
But as much as this is a soldier's reason d'etre, it is not often that you hear a soldier explicitly talk about 'killing'. The k-word as a verb is instead often disguised and supplanted by any number of other euphemisms. In precise and technical military parlance, reflecting the ever more precise and technically removed means of killing, the 'enemy' becomes the 'target'. But for the soldiers who personally 'engage' these 'targets', these objects are colloquially 'slotted', 'dropped', 'hit', 'fragged', 'sawn in half', 'smashed' or just plain 'shot'. Then the soldier will have achieved the noun of a 'kill'. The author's supposition is that such words are used by the soldier in combat as an attempt to mentally dissociate himself from the reality of his actions, so he can continue to operate as a soldier - and perhaps, when all is finally said and done, as a human being back home.
In battle, in a war, a soldier sees only a tiny fragment of what is available to be seen. The soldier is not a photographic machine. He is not a camera. He registers, so to speak, only those few items that he is predisposed to register and not a single thing more. Do you understand this? So I am saying to you that after a battle each soldier will have different stories to tell, vastly different stories, and that when a was is ended it is as if there have been a million wars, or as many wars as there were soldiers.
For Blake, the news was as a storm that tore him apart. How dare an enemy soldier hurt his father, how could an enemy soldier kill his father. This just could not have happened. He would have to do something about it. He would have to avenge his father's death. Yes, he would go to the war and kill that soldier.
J. Arthur Moore
LET'S GET READY TO FUCKIN' RUMBLE I'M A NO LIMIT SOLDIER NIGGA THAT'S WHO TANK AROUND MY NECK REPRESENT RESPECT NIGGA BOUT IT FULL OF FUCKIN' TATTOOS AM I ??? ITS THE DRUGS AND BUD NIGGA CLIQUE FOR THE COMMON SOLDIER DRUG DEALERS REAL NIGGAS AND THUGS CUZ I'M BITCH I'M A SOLDIER FOOL I THOUGHT I TOLD YA AMMUNITION FULLY LOADED CAMOFLAUGED RANGE ROVER AGAINST ALL ODDS TRU NIGGAS DON'T FALL NIGGA WE BALL NIGGA ARMY FATIGUE NIGGA WEED UP IN MY DRAWS YOU DON'T WANNA TAKE NO POOR WRECK IN MY HAND HOLDIN' YOUR BAG ABOUT ??? THROW UP YOUR SOLDIER RAG NIGGA WHEN THE TANK COME THROUGH PUT SOME DEPTH IN YOU MOTHERFUCKIN' STEP FUCK THE REP I'M A SOLDIER TOLDJA THAT'S 211
C-Murder F/ Fiend
Civilization, let me tell you what it is. First the soldier, then the merchant, then the priest, then the lawyer. The merchant hires the soldier and priest to conquer the country for him. First the soldier, he is a murderer; then the priest, he is a liar; then the merchant, he is a thief; and they all bring in the lawyer to make their laws and defend their deeds, and there you have your civilization!
Katherine Anne Porter
Left weaponless, Roran was forced to retreat before the remaining soldier. He stumbled over a corpse, cutting his calf on a sword as he fell, and rolled to avoid a two-handed blow from the soldier, scrabbling frantically in the ankle-deep mud for something, anything he could use as a weapon. A hilt brushed his fingers, and he ripped it from the muck and slashed at the soldier's sword hand, severing his thumb. The man stared dumbly at the glistening stump, then said, "This is what comes from not shielding myself." "Aye, " agreed Roran, and beheaded him.
I remember a story I read once, a soldier, was it at Shiloh? He was talking to me but not with his whole attention. Gettysburg? a soldier so mad with shock that he started burying birds and squirrels on the battlefield. You had lot of little things killed too, in the crossfire, little animals. Many tiny graves. p128
Imagine a soldier who believes killing another human being is wrong, kills his first human being in war when he has never killed before. Worse still, imagine this same soldier has his enemy in his sites and the enemy appears defenseless. Here, he might be allowed the luxury to have that moment with himself to debate whether he should pull the trigger or not. But on another day he may not have that luxury. Imagine further, a soldier is in this situation because his father was a soldier, and his grandfather was a soldier, and he is trying to please them but, unlike them, he doesn't believe killing people in war is right, yet there he is on the battlefield anyway where 'killed or be killed' leads the list in the army's operation manual. So, he pulls the trigger anyway even though he's categorically against killing another human being. And maybe this is the first time he's compromised on such a high principle and he continues killing other people as long as he's in the war and each time it becomes easier and easier until his principle, his absolute truth, is a motto not to live by, but one that is just a topic of conversation in a philosophy class or a backyard barbecue. War has changed him. From Messages From a Grandfather, by Robert Gately