An American Paratrooper

There was an American tank, 30 tons of death, fleeing down one of the little roads leading through the forest. One lonely paratrooper stood beside the road. A photographer captured the image of this young man with hollow sunken eyes, a three-days growth of beard, an M-1 Garand in one hand, and a bazooka slung over his back. He raised his hand to stop the fleeing tank. After it had ground to a halt, the weary paratrooper looked up at the tank commander, and asked, “Buddy, are you looking for a safe place?”

“Yeah,” the tank commander replied.

“Then park your tank behind me, because I’m the 82nd Airborne, and this is as far as the bastards are going.”

Do you understand how this story applies to you, my fellow warriors?

For the rest of your lives, you are going to be faced with people who are fleeing. They will be fleeing drugs, crime, poverty, violence, terrorism, and the fear that lurks in the hearts of every man and woman. And you have the mission, the authority, and the responsibility to stand up and say, “Friend, neighbor, brother, sister, buddy…are you looking for a safe place?”

And they will say, “Yeah.”

So you tell them, “Then get behind me, because I’m a cop – because I’m a soldier – because I’m a warrior – and this is as far as the bastards are going!”

You see, it is not about killing and it’s not about dying. We are not all called to kill and we are not all called to die, but we are all called to serve our civilization in this dark hour. It’s about preserving and protecting. It is about serving and sacrificing. It is about doing a dirty, desperate, thankless job, every day of your life, to the utmost of your ability, because you know that if no one did that job our civilization would be doomed.

So now as you do that, for the rest of your lives, may God bless you, your families, and every endeavor. Amen.

LT COL Dave Grossman, On Combat, pp. 360-361

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