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Last week, a video was posted on YouTube of some soldiers urinating on Taliban corpses. Here is a clip from ABC News. I posted that link, as opposed to the actual video on YouTube itself because I thought it instructive to see the way it was presented by ABC.

The video shows four young men, probably all in their twenties, or younger, and I remembered being twenty, and in the army:

Shaun Melarvie in basic training

In Basic Training

and, I wonder what I would have done. I’d like to think that I’d have done the honorable thing; but, when you put it in the context of being “in country” for seven months, losing seven comrades and suffering additional non-lethal casualties, I honestly don’t know.

My eighteen years in the Army was most notable for finding a prostatic nodule in a 40yo while doing an over-forty physical exam, which required a rectal exam. It was an exam he would not have otherwise had, and would have likely went on to develop metastatic disease. So, that is the only life I may have saved, that I know of, and that alone, made my eighteen years worthwhile. Nothing heroic, no charging up a hill or throwing myself on a grenade or weaving through crossfire to a fallen soldier, nothing like what we are asking of these young men and the thousands of other men and women serving today.

I have an acquaintance who was in Iraq and heavily involved in combat. He doesn’t talk about it, but when I’d ask him how he did it, he mentions ” I’d just put on my military face…” and that’s pretty much all he’d say.

These men live in brutal conditions, in a constant-threat environment, existing in the reality of kill or be killed that we cannot even imagine.

I would not presume to judge these young men. I will leave that to their conscience and developing maturity.

I do not like that ABC made no attempt to consider their actions in the context of the theater of war in which it occurred–shame on them. We do not send saints to war, we send men; men who are all too human; we send them to make war so that we, ahome and asleep in our beds, might be free.