21st July, 2002
I just finished reading Black Hawk Down a minute ago. It’s about four in the morning, and I have been reading since around eleven last night. It’s hard to put in to words the way I feel after finishing this book, but I’ll try. It’s hard to really even understand what those men went through during those two days. I’ve never been as emotionally vested in anything as I was during this book. Those Rangers and Special Forces Soldiers were outnumbered over one hundred to one and yet they didn’t quit in the face of danger; they kept on fighting for the survival of each other. They faced horribly lopsided odds, and yet never once thought of giving up; they instead chose to drive on and get out of there alive.
But even when facing those odds, the courage they displayed was still so subdued and almost expected from each of them. The way those men talk about the fight, after the fact, was as if every bit of their purpose in life was to be in that sort of situation. They knew exactly what was expected of them, and not a single one of them questioned it. They kept on fighting, for the survival of not only the individual self, but for the entire group. Helicopters were shot down; the pilots and crew of most of them were killed. Yet, those men still further risked harm by attempting to secure the crash sites and recover the bodies of their fallen brothers.
When the second helicopter went down, no one knew for sure whether or not anyone survived the crash; yet a pair of Special Forces snipers circling above volunteered to secure the scene until more troops could arrive. They didn’t care about whether or not they’d be in danger; they simply knew that the right thing to do was to get down there and keep the enemy from advancing on the wreckage. When they touched down and made it to the crash site, they found that just one of the crew survived the crash. The pilot was badly injured, but was still coherent. In the book, he details the feeling of pure joy of seeing those two men and how he felt like he was out of harm’s way. And while ultimately both of those men were killed by enemy fire, they stalled the barrage of gunfire long enough to have the pilot taken alive by militia forces instead of being killed by the hostile locals.
They sacrificed themselves in order for that pilot to live. It was two of them against an endless wave of anger and rage. The two of them did everything they could and gave everything they had in order to make sure that their friend and fellow Soldier could continue on in this life. I’ve never felt anything near that level of dedication or commitment. I’ve never been a part of something with so much meaning and with a sense of unconditional duty like that. I want to know what it is like to have that much passion about something that you’re willing to pay the ultimate price for it. I want to be part of that.
I am really going to consider joining the military now, I think. Not just because of reading a book, but because of the culmination of everything in my life. I feel like I’ve got nothing going for me and have already said that I am fed up with school. I’m also just fed up with living in this state. I want to experience more in the world than just where I’ve lived as a kid. I see a lot of people who are more than happy to finish high school, go to college in the same city or state in Indiana. And then marry their high school boyfriend or girlfriend and have two or three kids by the time they are 22. And the biggest thing they look forward to is getting a job at one of the local factories that everyone in their family already works at. That’s not the life I want for myself; I need something more than that. I need adventure, I need to explore the world, and break free of my shell that I’ve been raised in.
My father was in the Army and the Air Force; he knows the differences it can make in a person. I’ll just have to talk to him and see what he has to say about it and see if he’ll sign off for me to join. And then I will have to convince my mom that I won’t be in too much danger if I joined, since she would probably die of worry if I was. But anyway, in the meantime I’ve got work in about six hours and it’s time to try and sleep.