We went to a lot of war movies together and faithfully watched Combat! on television (7:30 p.m. Tuesdays), but his only comments were limited to pointing out errors of detail in uniforms, weapons and tactics. He loved Patton. I wish I knew more about the daily life of one American enlisted man, who was discharged a Tech. Sgt. As a boy I was probably looking for a hero. Today, I just want details. Writing of a later war in “A Letter to My Infant Son” (Deeply Dug In, 2003), R.L. Barth says: “There are few glorious stories in this war.” He writes:
“War is not the story
That you would have me tell you, as I heard it.
And what is courage? Too many things, it seems:
Carelessness, fatalism, or an impulse.
Yet it is none of these. True courage is
Hidden in unexpected terms and places:
In performing simple duties day by day;
In sometimes saying `no’ when necessary;
In, most of all, refusing to despair.
Even suppose a man is brave one time—
Is truly brave, I mean—will he be brave
A second time? In other ways? Perhaps.”
The Vietnam War spawned little readable poetry. Barth’s is an exception. Here is his “Lessons of War”:
“Hump extra rounds, frags, canteen, or long ration,
But always shitcan the imagination.”