Thinking about love
Thinking about love
After watching Band of Brothers, I was struck about the love those men had for each other. Not romantic love, of course, but fraternal love. The love of men for each other because they had shared mortal danger.
We often think about romantic love, but that is often the most illusive and hard to define of all the kinds of love we feel. It is hard to explain why or how you give your heart to someone, without sounding completely selfish.
But fraternal love is something different, an unselfish love, one which comes from sacrifice and time.
When we see rows of coffins, whether on a tarmac or on a plane, each one of those people leaves behind those who loved them. Family members, friends from home, but most importantly, those they served with. All their little kindnesses, the shared meals, the pre-war adventures, the down moments, all lost.
When someone tries to minimize the death of those in combat by comparing it to traffic accidents or murders, they deny the pain and tragedy of teenagers killed in combat. There is no other kind of death as painful or as pointless. The hole from the death of any child is tremendously painful. But when it is a combat death, it is worse. Because while sacrifice has meaning, to that family, their child is gone,alone, far away, in the company of strangers.
We also forget that to many people, their friends are gone. It is just as painful to those who serve to see their friends die as it is for anyone else. The mental burden on those who serve doesn't diminish. Death is death and painful for everyone. Losing a friend is a painful thing and life-altering. It drives many people into madness, long after combat is over.
Fraternal love is the bond which holds the combat units of any military together. The closeness, the sense of shared sacrifice and suffering, keeps men fighting when the rational thing would be to flee danger. When someone is killed in that fight, and most people survive, it is a tragedy. The more we save, the more painful that each death becomes, the sharper the questions become around their loss, could it have been prevented?
It is the bonds of fraternal love and the horrors of war which forever marks those who survive it.
posted by Steve @ 9:56:00 AM