Monday, April 7, 2008

Lone Survivor - Just in case you haven't heard of it...

So, I am late to the game on this one. I had not heard of this book until just after Christmas and did not get it on my reserve list at the library until about two weeks ago. Man was I missing out. If you haven't read this one, you are too. (Missing out...) I should warn you though, if you're going after this one looking for a feel good read, you've got the wrong book. Neither the good guys or the bad guys win. Most of both wind up paying a heavy, very ultimate price for the loyalty they feel towards each other and their respective senses of duty to cause and country.

My first impression, with out exception, can be summarized in one word: Respect. (I've typed this next bit here four times and am just not able to capture all that I intend to with the skills I have for writing. So, let's go at it like this...) In a world where our entertainment, our lives, and our media are increasingly focused on what is abhorrent and low and all that is represented by the overweight, single mother of 12 who is unclear who are the fathers of her children but has defrauded 24 men for child support, my hope was that out there in the world beyond corporate life and beyond the TV induced haze of the isolated American home, there were heroes at work in the world. Men and women who represent the very best a human can be in some of the worst possible circumstances. This is a story of a group of these people and they deserve your attention and respect. (See? There it is. Keep count. You'll see that word a few more times here...)

I'm not going to run over the plot here. It's everywhere online and any summary I did here would not do it justice. Instead, let's imagine a situation and see what we find out. Actually, let's do two situations:

The first and probably easiest to place yourself in goes like this: A group of your team members is in real trouble, life or death, holy hell those are real bullets trouble, and they call you and say as much and ask for your help. What do you do? Now if you're like me you say you would do whatever you could as fast as you could do it. So what if you knew that you and who ever went with you may or may not ever go home again? Do you run into the burning building? Do you step in front of the armed robber facing your friends? Do you load your rifle, muster all available men to arms, and race to the aid of your team? I don't know what I would do but I do know what the men of Team 10 did when faced with this situation and for that (what they did when faced with this), these men are all heroes. Forever. I thank them all, everyday by remembering who they were and what they did. Absolute respect.

Now the second scenario here is a bit tougher to imagine. If you had to choose between killing a person not known to be guilty of anything on the chance that 200 of his friends might return and try kill you or allowing him to go free and addressing the consequences of a massive assault on its own terms, brought on by spared innocent, what would you do? I know what the men of this squad did knowing that it would ultimately cost them dearly. The point here I think is that you are who you are and the courage to be that being no matter what and in full knowledge of probable consequences speaks to a level of character seldom witness in today's society. I can't say what I would have done in the same spot. I can't even speculate. I know that I hope I show the resolution of my convictions the way these men did. Absolute respect.

See what I mean? There is no escaping the feeling that we owe these men and women and all those like them such a debt and have no hope of repaying them. So many have willingly paid such an awful price. I try not to forget that while I work in my climate controlled office each day and spend my lunch, eating chicken wings and arguing over infinitesimally small matters of systems design or the best breasts in the Victoria's Secret catalog, others are doing what they were born to do and without their very able hands and minds watching my back in some far away land, I would be having a much worse day. Again, and I think it's time for everyone to agree on this, these guys deserve your unquestioned and unwavering respect. Read this book. You deserve to know what happened and you owe it to these guys to pay attention long enough to find out.

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