Although this assignment is more about war in general, I really feel the need to narrow it down to a much more specific and one of the more tragic aspects. I am choosing to express the pain and turmoil endured by the individual soldier. To do this, I am referencing the music video for the song “Hero of War” by Rise Against. Please click the link above. The two photos I have displayed above are taken from the video and represent each of the two wars that a soldier fights – the war around him (as depicted in the top photo) and the war within himself (as depicted in the bottom photo).
“Hero Of War” is the story of one soldier as he battles the war around him as well as the war that rages within. The video was created to open our eyes to everything from the skyrocketing suicide rate of troops, torture, internal sexual abuse, an under-funded VA, and the growing number of military personnel fighting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as they return home. In the video, Rise Against has drawn obvious comparisons between the current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the previous “war that couldn’t be won” in Vietnam. Following Vietnam, the veterans were subject to very poor treatment by the American people on their return home from battle.
The video also shows scenes of torture and water-boarding which demonstrate the very real abuses in Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison and Guantánamo Bay. The lyrics in the second verse, “They took off his clothes; they pissed in his hands; I told them to stop, but then I joined in.” not only demonstrate the sexual abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay, but the mentality of the soldier who tries to do the right thing, but is more afraid of looking weak to everyone around him. It is situations such as that that make it impossible for a soldier to ever forget the horrible things he did or, more importantly, forgive himself.
Even with the abuses being a prevalent topic in the video, there are two scenes that scream out to me more than any other. The first is the one where a soldier is left drunk and alone looking like a broken, desperate man as he struggles to find his way home. However, the most powerful scene is the series of green night-vision clips in which the soldier is fighting and losing the war within himself as shown in the photo above. It shows that every soldier ends of fighting the battle within alone. Though there are often people who care and are willing to help, it is something that no one else could possibly understand unless they’ve been through the same thing. Many are to ashamed to admit what they’ve done; others feel that they deserve to live in pain because of of what they did. But it all boils down to one simple fact, the soldier will fight the war within for the rest of his life.
This song really hit home to me when I first heard it a few years back. I served 5 years in the Marine Corps and was sent out on 3 combat deployments, once to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. Many of my brothers (in arms) and I have lived through some true horrors, and we have lived many of the events expressed in the lyrics. Most of us are not the same as we were before the war. Pay particular attention to the emotional damage of the soldier in the night-vision scenes because I know most of us have endured times like that. It gets easier to deal with over time, but it stays with us forever. One of my brothers could not handle the pain any more and took his own life last summer leaving behind a wife and a daughter.
War is so much more difficult on soldiers than most civilians realize, but only those who have lived through war as a soldier can truly understand what it means. However, I was particularly surprised at how real this video was to me considering the fact that the man who wrote the song never served in the military.