[June 27, 2018] Tell me the story of the foot soldier and I will tell you the story of all wars.1 I like this quote from an old war movie and it has been a favorite of mine since I watched it for the first time more than 40 years ago. From the time we were little boys, my friends and I wanted to be soldiers.
It wasn’t that we glorified war or that we like the way these men (yes, all men) looked in their uniforms or carried guns and explosives. Nor did we want to put up with the horrors of war (we didn’t know anyway) or that these men were somehow superior to other men.
What we appreciated was the fact that these foot soldiers were fighting for the cause of freedom. Specifically, in the film, the date was September 6, 1950, and the early part of the Korean War; nearly driving the struggling South Korean military into the sea and destroying the nation.
The idea that little kids knew enough to identify with these foot soldier is an amazing thing. What I think precipitated this understanding were the many Korean War veterans that were part of our lives growing up. These young men were local car mechanics, soda fountain jerks, linemen on the railroad, gas station attendants, and so on.
Those veterans who were willing to tell us what it was like, gave us an appreciation of life (a life with accomplishments), of camaraderie with others, family, and hard work but most importantly, helping free a nation. We were told hundreds of stories of battle, not of blood and guts, but of how their buddies endured the difficulties of battle and how they felt when they came home.
Tell me about the foot soldier is truly the real story of war and the consequences of strategic decisions made far above them. It is a story that has been told countless times but needs to be heard often enough that grand decision-makers understand the impact of their decisions on the lives of everyday men and women.
Leadership means having good judgment and that rests upon personal experiences and experiences of those around us. As kids, we listened intently to the veterans and we wanted to be just like them. We wanted to experience hardship and come out victorious over evil.
- This quote opens the war film Men in War (1957) by Anthony Mann and tells the story of combat close-up and personal. http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/309493%7C0/Men-in-War.html