Soldiers

A few years ago, I went to Hawaii. I visited Pearl Harbor; took a peak at the USS Missouri and at the Marine Corps Base.

At that time, the US was still at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. What struck me most during that brief visit was how much the Americans respected and positively adored their soldiers. There is a bit of  envy in me, as well.

Filipino police man a checkpoint. Photo from www.nst.com

Filipino police man a checkpoint. Photo from http://www.nst.com

I did mention in an earlier post that a person I love very much, was also a soldier. He was my mother’s older brother. And he joined the Army at a time when it seemed unpopular to do so.

My country has a long history of corruption as far as the Armed Forces are concerned. A long history of corruption, and a far longer history of … injustice. Also, as the leftists in my country would add, a long history of human rights violations, as well.

Picture from pcij.org

Picture from pcij.org

But I want to be fair here — which sucks because it’s preferable (and easier) to see the world in black and white. Even if, when it comes to those you love, you feel justified in seeing only shades of gray.

In 1896, my country went to war. In as much as a caged parrot can go to war with the human being that considers himself its master. That war has not yet ended. After more than 100 years, we are still at war with “colonialism” in all its forms.

Filipino soldiers circa 1899. Photo from Wikipedia

Filipino soldiers circa 1899. Photo from Wikipedia

I started thinking about soldiers because of a recent disturbance that erupted in what used to be a very quaint, very friendly city in the southern part of my country. That disturbance sent some 100,000 civilians into refugee status.

Mobilization of my country’s soldiers in their old scruffed well-worn boots was done to repel a group of poor criminals who were pretending to be “rebels”. At the helm of these “rebels” are a group of politicians who, of course, will not admit to their perfidy.

The thing about soldiers in my country — as in other countries, most notable of which is the USA — is that, at best, they are used as weapons; and at worst, they are used as pawns. In any case, they are used — whether willingly or unwillingly is up to the men (and women) in uniforms to answer.

The soldier whom I love with all my heart, is called Rolly. Were it not for him and his job, my mother wouldn’t have had an education; and would probably have died an earlier death than she eventually had.

Rolly is no longer on duty. He is currently … disabled.

So, klutzy civilian that I am, who did not even go through citizen’s army training — I would  like to muster all the backbone I have; all the conviction left after all the compromises I made; all that remains in me of that thing called “integrity”; all that I am. I would gather all that, and give Rolly…

… a salute.

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