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After All The Wars, Do We Still Not Know What Good Men & Women Are Dying For?

Thumbing through the hundreds, no thousands of offerings on Netflix, I kept coming back to Sgt Wil Garner. As a strict rule, I don’t watch recent war movies. By recent I mean Vietnam to the present. But I was bored and it showed a motorcycle and I started in on a Vet back home working through his PTSD. What could go wrong, right?

I stopped watching it after his encounter with a homeless vet. “Nothing bothers me more than to see someone begging for scraps who fought for this country,” Will stated. It is the fight scenes that bother me, but seeing a Vet suffer is bad. Never being in battle, just next to a few, I got to listen to a few men. It was about the closest I got.

And I heard a couple of universal sentiments I’d like to share. “I go to war,” they say, “so you don’t have to.” For me, I think, so if they went to war, I don’t have to watch it reenacted on my television set. It’s not selfish, I’m not in denial, in fact just the opposite, it’s just too painful.

Another thing I heard, I felt, I lived, was guys don’t die for our flag—they die for the guy next to them. Patton, I believe once said, “The key to war is not dying for your country, it’s getting the other son of a bitch to die for his.”

It never amused me when I saw athletes taking a knee but when asked by a “civilian” what I thought, my answer surprised him. It’s not a military issue, it’s a country issue. Guys (generic) don’t die for the flag, I said. The military is being used, a pawn by the NFL. It is exploited every weekend by well meaning Americans. It makes us feel good. Professional sports teamed up with the flag because patriotism sells.

Here’s a little secret, I know I shouldn’t tell. Servicemembers in a captivity school are taught to walk across a flag to get a bowl of rice. It’s made of cloth, it represents nothing to the people who put it in the dirt. They want to break you, to starve you, to turn you. If you truly know why you are fighting, what you are fighting for, then you walk across that red white and blue material and live another day.

I’m not telling you this to get political—I’m telling to get personal. I’m proud to put my flag out today because I know what it stands for. But what would you die for? Recently, a mother and child died in a car accident leaving the father and second child in the hospital. What did they die for?

Nothing is my first response. Was it yours? But it’s not my last response. I’m not saying I know why they died. I don’t. I don’t know anything about them, and just a little about dying.

What I mean is this—if you don’t have anything to live for, or if you don’t know why you are living then you don’t have anything to die for. And well, life is pretty much meaningless and a piece of cloth may be all you have.

But there are far greater principalities and kingdoms and there is a war waging far greater than the boundaries of a patch of sand a few thousand miles and a few thousand years behind.

Know what you are living for and the guy next to you, the child in the car seat behind you, the old lady shut in her house all become worthy to die for. Knowing what to live for creates by default, something to die for. Life has meaning—therefore so must death.

And so I ask you, on this memorial day, What are you living for?

No pictures, no advisement by me, no shameless recognition. Not today.

After All The Wars, Do We Still Not Know What Good Men & Women Are Dying For?

Andy Davidson

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APA Reference
Davidson, A. (2019). After All The Wars, Do We Still Not Know What Good Men & Women Are Dying For?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 20, 2019, from


Last updated: 27 May 2019
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