Sticks turned into battle weapons, guns and swords. And there's GI Joe and his theme song: "He'll fight for freedom where ever there's trouble. GI Joe is there. He never gives up. He'll stay til the fight's won. GI Joe will dare. GI Joe - A real American hero." (Kinder ) When picturing the outcome of the winning side of war - doesn't the picture include that of a soldier being greeted by his loving family at the airport; train station or dock - whole, happy and intact - a conqueror
Reading the book, Generals Die in Bed - puts a bitter end to all those illusions. Illusions created by those who benefit from recruiting the best of the citizens to contain or put down a disagreement with another society that will not be worked out in peace. The book holds back nothing in it's descriptions of the filth, cold, starvation, sleep privation and painful death.
The human nature wants to identify with others of the same kind while remaining a distinct individual. It is often this desire that one will find a name and good character among others of the same bent; and that entices us to join. "Identity is a result of classification of the world. Classification is the basic mental activity, universal although varied in form, and is the basis of cultural constructions' through which people make order in the universe of their perception. Human thinking consists in distinguishing and defining objects and establishing relations between them." (Mach p 5)
In the book, the author puts to bed any illusion of camaraderie resulting from membership in the military and participating in a battle. Throughout the book he describes acts of base behavior enacted by the members of the squad against each other. He tells of the fight that breaks out over a moldy piece of bread. He tells about how one of the members of the squad kills the leader of the group - on purpose. He tells over again about the various members that die in a conflict; and he tells how the others just accept it without much comment or genuine sympathy.
"Out on rest we behaved like human beings; here we are merely soldiers. We know what soldiering means. It means saving your own skin and getting a bellyful as often as possible ...that and nothing else.
Camaraderie--esprit de corps--good fellowship--these are words for journalists to use, not for us. Here in the line they do not exist." (Harrison, X) From Chapter 6
Killing the enemy is heroism - a rite of manhood
Joining the military is about the rites of passage into maturity. It is clear that you will be separated from the boys. It is clear that you will be tried hard but you will overcome. It is clear that you will make who you really are - a reality. And you will return to the folds of your loved ones, your society - a hero. This can be seen in the slogans of some of the various military, like Canadian Airborne Regiment Creed. "I am Canada's best. In peace and war I never fail, anywhere, anytime, in anything." And the US Marines - "The Few the Proud" - a culture of the select chosen privileged ones. The US Air Force slogan: "Aim High!" is that you will be admired. Your choices in the military will be filled with honor! The Army Slogan: "Be all that you can be!" implies you are not whole until you join. "It's not just a job. It's an adventure!" From the US Navy - how much more fun can that be
In chapter 6, the author makes short work of