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These Are Our Nation’s Future

This is not a new poem, but it remains true. These youth don’t whine, get offended, and need a quiet space when confronted with a challenge–they deal with it. If they aren’t the future of America–then America has no future. By the way, this is about young men, but, as you’ll see at the end, it now includes young women.

1/2 Boy — 1/2 Man

The average age of the Military Man is 19 years. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid
who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet
dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country.

He never really cared much for work & he would rather wax his own car than wash his
father’s, but he has never collected unemployment either.

He is a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student, pursued some
form of sport activities, drives a 10-year-old jalopy, & has a steady girlfriend that broke up with him either when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away. He listens to rock & roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing & a 155mm Howitzer.

He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk. He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds & reassemble it in less time in the dark. He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher & use either one effectively if he must.

He digs foxholes & latrines & can apply first aid like a professional.
He can march until he is told to stop, or stop until he is told to march.
He obeys orders instantly & without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity.
He is self-sufficient.

He has two sets of fatigues: he washes one & wears the other. He keeps his canteens full & his feet dry.
He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, & fix his own hurts.
If you are thirsty, he will share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He will even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low.

He has learned to use his hands like weapons & weapons as if they were his hands.
He can save your life – or take it, because that is his job.
He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay, & still find ironic humor in it all.

He has seen more suffering & death than he should have in his short lifetime.
He has wept in public & in private, for friends who have fallen in combat & is unashamed.

He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to ‘square-away’ those around him who have not bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking. In an odd twist, day in & day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful.

Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our
Beardless or not, he is not a boy. He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free for over 200 years.

He has asked nothing in return, except our friendship & understanding.
Remember him, always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood.
And now we even have women over there in danger, doing their part in this tradition
of going to war when our nation calls us to do so.

As you go to bed tonight, remember this short prayer:
Lord, hold our Troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us.
Bless them & their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. Amen.

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