[November 5, 2018] From time immemorial, battles have been won or lost because of the ordinary foot soldier. This foot soldier deserves to be called honorable because it is he who carries the nation’s colors, bears the burden of fighting and dying, and is the one also quickly forgotten.
The concept of foot soldier does not just apply to those who arrive to battle on foot or to the Infantryman; nor is he the mindless knuckle-dragger so many would have us believe. A foot soldier could be a sailor, marine, airman, man, woman, any race, any religion, any social class; they all have something in common. Every foot soldier knows that today may be his last one on Earth and only a few will mourn his departure.
“They were called the grunts, and many of them, however grudgingly, were proud of the name. They were the infantryman, the foot soldiers of the war.” – Bernard Edelman, author of ‘Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam’
Regardless of what is said of the foot soldier, this is an individual who prides himself on being the very person who carries the fight to the enemy. Few want to do his job and even fewer can do it. Who can face the enemy, see the “whites of his eyes,” and still do his job to kill the enemy (note I did not say ‘destroy the enemy’)?
And yet, do all this while exhausted, carrying heavy equipment, being at risk for every insect, crawling creature, and extreme heat and cold, rain and wind, and the randomness of death in combat. Every foot soldier expects to be the first to attack and the last to come home.
And yet, he expects others to be envious of his teammate’s courage and élan. No one knows of the mental and physical resilience it takes to do what he does or do can they even imagine it.
And yet, he does not want ordinary rewards of money, medals, or drink. What he knows is that his valor is known by those foot soldiers that are at his side and will come to his aid whenever he needs it. That is rewarding enough. For the foot soldier knows that only he is truly honorable and being one of the few in history who actually make a difference.