A few years back I played in the same team as an Ex Royal Marine. A huge bear of a man. He left the Marines early. He would never talk about the service much. But occasionally he would drop the occasional line into the pub conversations. I know he had a really bad time in Afghanistan. I remember him telling me once that he might be a huge intimidating figure but he was not prepared for what he experienced. He then said but your not supposed to talk about it. He on more than one occasion said that he was not the hero he set out to be. He certainly struggled big time with his mental health since he left the service. One day he without warning just moved out of his house. Disappeared off the radar and no one from the team saw him again. I often think about him and I really hope he found a better place.

Similarly my Dad never wanted to really talk about his time in the army and the fighting. In his eyes talking about it just opened old wounds. He needed to bury the pain and loss.

Recently I came across this music video on a similar theme. It’s called He Died at Home. The lyrics from this Neal Morse song resonate because they are based on real events.

https://youtu.be/88e74WaQioI

*********************

William always wanted to be a soldier
“Army men were his favorite toys,” tells his mother
He was going to be the hero of the story
Live with honor or die in a blaze of glory
So he joined when he was seventeen
Kissed his mom goodbye
She wept as she packed his duffel bag
With notes of love and pride
She’d never guess six years from then
Tortured and alone
William wouldn’t die in fields unknown
He died at home

He loved the army, it’s all he ever wanted
To serve his country and look death in the face undaunted
But after a couple of tours, the fire in him died
You can’t watch friends be killed and stay the same inside
He told his mom “you’d hate me
If you knew the things I’ve done”
“I will never hate you
You are my beloved son”
He said, “no mom, the son you loved
Died somewhere over there”
But William didn’t die in the combat zone
He died at home

He came back ill at ease with civilians
His mother woke to screaming – it was William’s
The army shrugged and gave him more prescriptions
As William’s mind grew more and more distant

Before he died he told his mom
“Don’t bury me in my uniform
No military funeral
That’s for some who gave their all”
One night he shot the soldier dead
To kill the voices in his head
They gathered at the weekly wake
They have at every army base
‘Cause more will die by their own hand
Than fall in any foreign land
They covered William in the flag
But there was not a boast or brag
When asked how soldier William died
No one mentions suicide

The cause of death is hard to say out loud
The soldier who once stood so strong and proud
His mother looks away and simply moans
He died at home

Song by Neal Morse

Lyrics from songmeanings

59 thoughts on “The soldier

  1. I’ve always felt a bit guilty that I don’t know more about my dad’s service but he’s never wanted to talk about it. The few comments he dropped about the Vietnam war made it clear that it was memories he’d rather not have.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I hope your friend is ok and settled somewhere, the best he can be,with support.
    There is no doubt that going into war, you won’t be the same person at the end, as you were when you first went in.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. It only takes a few months training and a few thousand dollars (pounds) to teach a man to kill someone he does not know with a rifle, cannon or bayonette. Or to train someone to act without thinking and die for ‘a cause’, or for your mates.

    It would take infinitely longer and many times the amount to teach a man to forget what he’s learned, what he’s done, been responsible for doing to others, because of that training.

    Despite what they say, the government is not serious about looking after you when you come home…. if you come home. If they were they’d have the ‘training facilities’ a human being would need after being in a war so as to have any chance of fitting back into a society that does largely not know what it’s like to kill a fellow human being.

    Did you ever read “Adolf Hitler: My Part In His Downfall.” by Spike Milligan?

    It was his personal stories of World War 2 and he put a humourous spin on most of the more boring bits and a few of the less than boring bits, and the stupidity of those supposedly ‘in charge’, but he also included the odd ‘vignette’ such as describing, in detail, a soldier being run over by an enemy tank!

    War is Hell.

    If you come back from one you can’t be the same as when you left, you see it all differently.

    There is more than one kind of hell, as i’m sure you get only too well.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It is unbelievable – from anyone else but politicians! 😦

        Our police officers in my state are not entitled to workers compensation for stress-related time off work caused by the stress of their work??

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No-one signs up for the destruction of their soul and estrangement from normal society upon their return, they sign up for the honour and the glory of doing their duty to ‘defend’ their country, with the mistaken belief that their country has their back if they are luck enough to come back. – Wankers! ( those who put up that kind of BS ‘argument’ i mean!)

        Liked by 2 people

      3. And they ‘forget’ because they never have to do what those who are trained at boot camps to obey without question have to do, and try to live with the consequences.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Apparently we are the only state in Australia that doesn’t – but WHY???

        They say they are ‘considering it’ – as if there is some sort of question as to why they should do the right thing by people who regularly put their lives on the line for us or who have to pull bodies out of burning or crashed wrecks?

        Ughhh!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. 😔 Yes, war changes people inside where we can’t reach to help them.
    To kill another is to kill part of oneself and no amount of comfort can change that. The bravest people on the planet are those that turn their back on the aggressor, whether that is the school bully, or the soldier pointing a gun. The hurt is physical but can never touch the heart. Condolences for your friend. 🕯

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Talking about it lessens it’s hold on you. Talk about it and make it less difficult and take your life back.” – I know this is true. Rape and abuse, loss of my husband, the crap I’ve gone thru. Yes, It works.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. War really is so sad – the outcome never seems worth all the loss. Because your right, if the soldier returns home, the soldier certainly isn’t the same as he was before. The lyrics are beautiful. Very touching.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Oh how sad, and yet, how can we truly expect those who go through hell to return unchanged? I’ve taught many soldiers over the years, and so many of them just want to focus on the present. I do not blame them at all. Like you said, what matters is that they find a better place.

    Liked by 1 person

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