An American Sniper . . . my thoughts

Last night my dreams were filled with nightmares triggered no doubt by the things I saw and heard last evening while viewing the movie “An American Sniper.”  I have no first hand experience in war.  The closest I came was in 1971 when my decision to attend college trumped my draft number.  Neither have I read the reviews of “An American Sniper,” other than seeing the titles of articles that reveal there is a heated debate over what the messages in the movie were.  But I have sat in the counseling office and heard men and women from five wars (WWII, Korean, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan) tell their haunting stories.

When it comes to painting the landscape of war some people have deluded themselves into believing it can be done by dipping a fine tip paintbrush in an inkwell filled with an antiseptic, thereby creating clean, sharp lines of right and wrong, defining without mistake who the enemy is, and with no lives being lost.  But in reality the landscape of war is created by a hand dipped into a bucket filled with mud, sand, sweat, tears, and blood – lots of blood.  The lines are often blurred, even when looking through the high powered scope of a sniper’s rifle.

In war people kill for more than one reason: they are ordered to; they believe they are protecting their country; retribution for the enemy having killed a comrade.  However, no matter what the motivation is (and no matter how it may look to an outsider), the taking of a human life is not something any soldier takes lightly.  Jagged scars populate their memory, disturbing their sleep for decades.  “What if’s” nip at the edges of their thoughts when their mind wanders back to the battlefield.

No human can live in an un-human environment for any length of time without it changing them.  To witness the depths of depravity and evil that the human mind can sink to, resulting in the torture and slaughter of the innocent, is a horrific nightmare the majority of us have never experienced.  But once you have experienced it you never look at people quite the same again. 

The highest cost of war is not measured in dollars and cents.  In fact, there is not a measuring tool that can accurately give an accounting.  That cost includes the mental and emotional damage done to soldiers who return home.  And it includes what war does to those families who are not only waiting anxiously on the edges of the battlefield to learn if their loved one is still alive but also have to adjust to the changed soldier the battlefield returns to them.  Physical wounds heal much more quickly than mental and emotional ones.

Make no mistake, if you are reading this without gunfire and bombs exploding nearby or in the distance, if you are free to express your thoughts and opinions, and if you can worship in public any way you choose, then you owe a debt you can never repay to the American soldier who for over a hundred years has fought to defend those rights for you.  Give them the honor and respect due them.

4 thoughts on “An American Sniper . . . my thoughts

  1. I want to see the movie, but I don’t think I can. Reason being, I have family members who were engaged in the war. I don’t think I can allow myself to visually see a reenactment of the torture they endured,for our freedom. It would forever be cemented in my head and played over and over as if there was a camera in there. Maybe one day I may be able to see the movie. I’m grateful there is a movie out, although there are going to be so many different perceptions , as to “why?” I think you understand what I mean by my last statement!

  2. I have seen the movie and in my opinion it is one mans experiences in war. It’s not racially driven, it’s not hate driven, it’s ‘war’ and what ‘he’ lived while in it. It was well written and well directed, it was accurate and depicted much of what actually takes place in that country. Many of those in leadership roles are barbaric savages that hurt, rape, maim and kill even their own people, and they often do so in the name of religion.
    David, your article is right, I agree completely. No soldier enjoys war, but many do feel it is their ‘duty and obligation’ to serve and protect. It is them alone who live with the aftermath, and the job for the rest of us to be supportive upon their return. I’m grateful to those who currently serve and those that have served in the past. I thank each and every one of you for your sacrifices.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s